Fulltext

Thornton Wilder's Play "Our Town"

liza hussain dwaini

Alustath الاستاذ
ISSN: 0552265X 25189263 Year: 2013 Volume: 2 Issue: 204 Pages: 53-70
Publisher: Baghdad University جامعة بغداد

Abstract

Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17, 1897, in Madison, Wisconsin. His father, Amos Wilder, was a strict Calvinist; and his mother, Isabella Niven Wilder, was a very religious lady. The family moved to China in 1906 when his father became the United States Consul-General in Hong Kong. Wilder returned with his mother to California in 1912 because of the unstable political conditions in China at that time. Enrolled in Berkeley High School, he became interested in theater and began regularly attending plays. He also began to demonstrate his unique talents for writing. Graduating from high school in 1915, Wilder attended Oberlin College before transferring to Yale University in 1917. During World War I, he served in Rhode Island in 1918. When war was over, he returned to his studies at Yale. In 1920, he received his bachelor's degree, and saw the first publication of his play The Trumpet Shall Sound. He received his master's degree at Princeton University in 1926, the publication year of his novel The Cabala. His novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) proved immensely popular, and led to the Pulitzer Prize in 19281.Wilder later taught at the University of Chicago, in Illinois, (1930–1936), and the University of Hawaii (1935). He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938 for Our Town to become the only American writer to win both the Novel and Drama categories of that prize2. He volunteered in World War II (1939–45), serving in Africa, Italy, and the United States. A lecturer at Harvard in the early 1950s, he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1952. Wilder was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and the National Book Committee's National Medal for Literature in 1965. He died of a heart attack December 7, 1975, in Hamden, Connecticut, where he had lived off and on for many years with his sister, secretary, business manager, and literary adviser, Isabel Wilder3.