PCS Blog

The Life of Thornton Wilder

Posted by Alice Hodge | 21 August 2015


1897                Born in Madison, Wisconsin (April 17)

1906                Moves to Hong Kong in May and to Berkeley, California in October

1906-1910      Emerson Public School in Berkeley  

1910-1911      China Inland Mission School, Chefoo, China (one year)

1912-1913       Thacher School, Ojai, California (one year). First play known to be produced: The Russian Princess

1915                 Graduates from Berkeley High School; active in school dramatics

1915-1917       Oberlin College; published regularly 

1920                B.A. Yale College (three month service with U.S. Army in 1918); many publications 

1920-1921     American Academy in Rome (eight month residency)

1920s              French teacher at Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey (’21-’25 and ’27-’28)

1924                First visit to the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire

1926                M.A. in French literature, Princeton University

                         The Trumpet Shall Sound produced Off-Broadway (American Laboratory Theatre)

                         The Cabala (first novel)

1927                 The Bridge of San Luis Rey (novel, Pulitzer Prize)

1928                The Angel That Troubled the Waters (first published collection of drama — playlets) 

1930s              Part-time faculty, University of Chicago (comparative literature and composition); lectures across the                          country; first Hollywood screenwriting assignment (1934); extensive foreign travel

1930                The Woman of Andros (novel)

                         Completion of home for his family and himself in Hamden, Connecticut

1931                 The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays (six one-act plays)

1932                Lucrece opens on Broadway staring Katharine Cornell (translation of André Obey’s Le Viol de                                        Lucrèce)

1935                Heaven’s My Destination (novel)

1937                A Doll’s House (adaptation/translation) opens on Broadway with Ruth Gordon

1938                Our Town (Pulitzer Prize) and The Merchant of Yonkers open on Broadway

1942                The Skin of Our Teeth opens on Broadway (Pulitzer Prize)

                         Screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Shadow of a Doubt

1942-1945      Service with Army Air Force in North Africa and Italy (Lieut. Col. at discharge — Bronze Star and                                  O.B.E.)

1948                The Ides of March (novel); performing in his plays in summer stock in this period

                         The Victors opens Off-Broadway (translation of Sartre’s Morts sans sépulture)

1949                Major role in Goethe Convocation in Aspen; lectures widely

1951-1952      Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard

1952                Gold Medal for Fiction, American Academy of Arts and Letters

1953                Cover of TIME Magazine (January 12)

1955                 The Matchmaker opens on Broadway staring Ruth Gordon 

                         The Alcestiad produced at Edinburgh Festival with Irene Worth (as A Life in the Sun)

1957                 German Peace Prize

1961                 Libretto for The Long Christmas Dinner (music by Paul Hindemith — premieres in Mannheim, West                          Germany) 

1962                “Plays for Bleecker Street” (Someone from Assisi, Infancy, and Childhood) premiere at NYC’s Circle                            in the Square 

                         Libretto for The Alcestiad (music by Louise Talma — premieres in Frankfurt, West Germany)

1963                Presidential Medal of Freedom

1964                Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing opens on Broadway

1965                National Book Committee’s Medal for Literature

1967                The Eighth Day (National Book Award for Fiction)

1973                 Theophilus North (novel)

1975                 Dies in sleep in Hamden, CT on December 7. Buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hamden, Connecticut



For more information, please visit thorntonwilder.com and thorntonwildersociety.org.


Comments (0)

There are no comments for this entry yet.

Join the conversation!

Portland Center Stage welcomes your comments and criticism.

We invite you to share your comments with us on our Facebook page.


For current and upcoming shows, please see our Season Calendar.

Sign up for the PCS email list.

Season Sponsors