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Thornton Wilder Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Cabala (1926)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927)Description / Buy at Amazon
Woman of Andros (1930)Description / Buy at Amazon
Heaven's My Destination (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ides of March (1948)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Eighth Day (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Theophilus North (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Plays

The Happy Journey (1930)Description / Buy at Amazon
Our Town (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
Merchant of Yonkers (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
Love And How To Cure It (1941)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Skin of Our Teeth (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rare Our Century a Play in Three Scenes (1947)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Matchmaker (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Drunken Sisters (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Infancy (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Alcestiad: Or, a Life in the Sun (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Childhood (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Seven Deadly Sins (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ages of Man (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bernice (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pullman Car Hiawatha (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Youth (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Someone from Assisi (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Doll's House (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays (1928)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays in One Act (1931)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, Volume I (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, Volume II (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Thornton Wilder Reader (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Our Town and Other Plays (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

James Joyce, 1882-1941 (1944)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Characteristics and Other Essays (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Journals of Thornton Wilder, 1939-1961 (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Collected Translations and Adaptations of Thornton (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Tour of the Darkling Plain (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Selected Letters (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wisconsin on April 17, 1897, the son of Amos Parker Wilder (a newspaper editor and later US diplomat) and Isabella Thornton Niven. He had four siblings along with a twin that was stillborn. All of the surviving Wilder kids spent part of their childhood while their dad was stationed in Shanghai and Hong Kong as US Consul General.

Thornton’s older brother, named Amos, became Hollis Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School, and was a noted poet and was instrumental in developing the field of theopoetics. Charlotte Wilder was also a poet, and Janet Wilder Dakin was a zoologist, while their sister Isabel was an accomplished writer on her own.

He started writing plays while at the Thacher School in Ojai, California, where he got teased by classmates as being overly intellectual and he did not fit in. He graduated from Berkeley High School in the year 1915.

After he served a three month long enlistment in the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, during World War I (rising to the rank of corporal), he went to Oberlin College before he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in the year 1920 at Yale University. It was here that he refined his writing abilities as a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, a literary society. He got his Master of Arts degree in French literature from Princeton University in the year 1926.

After graduation, he went to Italy and studied archaeology and Italian as part of an eight month long residency at The American Academy in Rome, and then he taught French at the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey starting in 1921. After his second novel was published and brought him commercial success, he resigned from the Lawrenceville School in 1928.

From 1930 until 1937, he taught at the University of Chicago, during which time he published his translation of Andre Obey’s own adaptation of the story “Le Vol de Lucrece” as “Lucrece”. While in Chicago, he became famous as a lecturer and was chronicled on the celebrity pages.

The Second World War saw Wilder rise to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the US Army Air Force Intelligence, first in Africa, and later in Italy until 1945.

Thornton went on to be a visiting professor at Harvard University, where he served for a year as the Charles Eliot Norton professor. Even though he considered himself to be a teacher first and a writer second, he continued writing all his life, being given the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1957 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the year 1963.

Thornton won three Pulitzer Prizes for the plays “Our Town” and “The Skin of Our Teeth” and for the novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”. He also won a US National Book Award for “The Eighth Day”.

The money he earned off of “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” was used by Wilder in 1930 to build a house for his family in Hamden, Connecticut. His sister, named Isabel, lived there for the rest of her life. It became his home base, even though he traveled extensively and lived away for significant periods of time. He died of heart failure in this house on December 7, 1975 at the age of 78.

“The Cabala” is a stand alone novel and was released in 1927. One young American student spends one year in the exotic world of post-World War I Rome. As he’s there, he experiences the waning days of this secret community (a “cabala”) of decaying royalty, an assortment of memorable American ex-pats, and a great cardinal of the Roman Church.

This novel is a semi-autobiographical book filled with unforgettable characters and human passions. It is responsible for launching Thornton Wilder’s career as a celebrated dramatist and storyteller.

“The Bridge of San Luis Rey” is a stand alone novel and was released in 1927. On July 20, 1714, Friday noon, the absolute finest bridge in all of Peru busted and pushed five travelers down into the gulf below.

It’s by mere chance that a monk witnesses this tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on this quest in order to prove that it was divine intervention, and not chance which led to the deaths of those that perished in this tragedy. His search leads him to his own death, as well as to the author’s timeless investigation into the meaning of the human condition and the nature of love.

“The Ides of March” is a stand alone novel and was released in 1948. This is a brilliant epistolary novel of the Rome of Julius Caesar. Through imaginary documents and letters, Thornton brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of its most magnetic personalities.

In this novel, the Caesar from history is transformed into Caesar the human being like he appeared to his legions, his family, his empire, and his Rome in the months right before his death. In this inventive narrative, all of Rome comes crowding through his pages. Romans of the villas, of the slums, and of the palaces, brawling youths, prostitutes and noble ladies, and the assassins and spies all stalk Caesar in his Rome.

“The Eighth Day” is a stand alone novel and was released in 1967. A story set in a mining town located in southern Illinois about two families that get blasted apart by the apparent murder of a father by the other one.

The accused killer, John Ashley, makes a miraculous escape the night before his execution and his flight to freedom sets off a powerful story that traces the fate of his and the victim’s wife and kids.

At once a philosophical story and a murder mystery, this is a deeply moving and suspenseful and is a classic stature which has been hailed as a great American epic.

For twenty months, Thornton worked in hibernation away from his friends and family, in the town of Douglas, Arizona from 1962 until 1963. It was during this time, he wrote “The Eighth Day”.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Thornton Wilder

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