Author Thornton Wilder

I thought this was the Wilder that writes comedy, Billy Wilder, but it isn’t. I started reading a bio of Thornton Wilder on Wikipedia and ran across the fact that he had received THREE Pulitzer Prizes. I thought, Wow, he must be some kind of writer. His Pulitzers were for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Our Town (the play), and The Skin of Our Teeth (also a play). Not only that he won a National Book Award for The Eighth Day, a novel.

He was basically a playwright it appears having written only seven novels, but thirty or forty plays. I saw the title The Bridge of San Luis Rey and thought that it may be a Western, but it actually takes place in Peru where a few people were crossing the bridge when it gave away. Wilder digs into the backgrounds of the people to see why they were on the bridge to begin with.

Wilder was well educated having attended Oberlin College and earned his BA from Yale. He got his Master of Arts Degree from Princeton in 1926. His preliminary schooling was in different schools, one being in China where his family lived during his younger years. He was bullied, or teased, at being overly intellectual by students at the Thacher School in Ojai, CA.

Thornton Wilder was in both World Wars, working up to corporal in WWI. In WWII he was a Lieutenant Colonel in intelligence and earned many ribbons and medals. Along with other homosexuals in the war, I assume he (and they) didn’t act like a man who liked men while they were fighting the war.

Anyway, Mister Wilder was a pretty prolific and fine writer from what I read. Personally, I haven’t read anything by him except parts of the play Our Town in high school. Our class had to out it on, and I had a small part. I’ve heard that this was practically a requirement in schools across the Nation.

Further reading: Thornton Wilder: A Life by Penelope Niven, 700 pages.