Thornton Wilder Chronology


Thornton Niven Wilder Chronology

1897       Born in Madison, Wisconsin (April 17)

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

1906-10 Emerson Public School in Berkeley

1910-11 China Inland Mission School, Chefoo, China (one year)

1912-13 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

1915-17 Oberlin College; published regularly

1920        B.A. Yale College (3-month service in 1918 with U.S. Army in 1918); many publications

1920-21  American Academy in Rome (8-month residency)

1920s     French teacher at Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey (’21-’25 & ’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 screen-writing assignment (1934); extensive foreign travel

1930       The Woman of Andros (novel)

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/ trans.) 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

1942-45 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.

1951-52 Appointed 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, Connecticut (December 7)

For more information about Wilder’s life, work, and his family, visit the Official Website of the Thornton Wilder Family.


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