Thornton Wilder Collection
Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1897. His father, Amos Parker Wilder, was a newspaper editor and a diplomat. Amos' job as a diplomat caused the family to move to such places as Hong Kong and Shanghai during Thorton's early years. Wilder attended Oberlin College from 1915-1917, studying classics. When his family moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1917, Wilder transferred to Yale, where his first play was published (but not performed). After serving in World War I, studying archaeology in Rome, and teaching French in New Jersey, he received his master's in French literature at Princeton. In addition to his writing, he lectured and was a visiting professor at universities. He also served in World War II and earned the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He is most well known for his play Our Town, and also for his breakthrough novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey. His other works include The Woman of Andros, The Ides of March, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Matchmaker (on which the musical Hello, Dolly! was based). He won the Pulitzer Prize three times for Our Town, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and The Skin of Our Teeth. He died in 1975 in Connecticut, where he had lived with his sister. Special Collections currently holds 17 items by Thornton Wilder, including signed first editions.