Playwright, Author. Born Thornton Niven Wilder in Madison, Wisconsin, he was the son of United States Diplomat. He spent his childhood in China where his father served in the diplomatic corps before going to school in California as a teenager. He received a Bachelor's degree from Yale University and, after a stint as a teacher at the prestigious Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, achieved a graduate degree from Princeton University. Knowing from an early age that he wanted to be a writer, his first professional work, "The Trumpet Shall Sound," was produced by the Laboratory Theatre in New York City, New York in 1926. His first novel, "The Cabala" was published the same year. His second novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," published the following year was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In order to support himself in his chosen profession during the 1930's he took a job as a lecturer at the University of Chicago as well as attempted to be a screenwriter in Hollywood, California. His biggest success during that period came with the production of "Our Town" (1938) which was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 1942 he won that award again with the premiere of "The Skin of our Teeth." Wilder would go on through the years to enjoy huge success also being responsible for such plays as "The Matchmaker" (1955) which was the basis for the hit musical "Hello Dolly," "The Alcestiad" (1955), and "Childhood" (1960). His other books included "The Eighth Day" (1967) and "Theophilus North" (1973). He would be honored with several awards throughout his distinguished career including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army and became a decorated Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Air Corps working in Military Intelligence in North Africa and Italy. Thornton Wilder had an active social life counting among his many friends were authors Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather and actor Montgomery Clift. He died in Hamden, Connecticut in 1975.
Bio by: Catharine