Chronology of Thornton Wilder’s Life and Works
Bio and list of recent Wilder-related publications
WILDER'S EARLY YEARS, 1897-1915

1897

Born in Madison, Wisconsin (April 17)

1906

Moves to Hong Kong (May) and to Berkeley, California (October)

1906-10

Attends Emerson Public School in Berkeley

1910-11

Attends China Inland Mission School, Chefoo (Yantai), China

1912-13

Attends Thacher School, Ojai, California
The Russian Princess, Wilder’s first play known to be produced, is performed by Thacher students

1915

Graduates from Berkeley High School; active in school dramatics
UNIVERSITY YEARS, 1915-26

1915-17

Attends Oberlin College; publishes regularly

1920

Receives B.A., Yale College (with brief service in 1918 with U.S. Army in 1918); many publications

1920S

Teaches at Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey (’21-’25, and ’27-’28)

1924

First residency at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire

1926

Receives M.A. degree in French, Princeton University
The Trumpet Shall Sound produced in New York Off-Broadway Laboratory Theatre
The Cabala (first novel)
EARLY CAREER, 1926-37

1927

Second Novel: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Pulitzer Prize)

1928

The Angel That Troubled The Waters (first published collection of drama–playlets)

1930s

Part-time teacher, University of Chicago
(comparative literature and composition); lectures across the country;
first visit to Hollywood (1934); extensive foreign travel

1930

The Woman of Andros (novel)

1931

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

1932

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

1932

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

1935

Heaven’s My Destination (novel)

1937

Adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House for Broadway, starring Ruth Gordon (Broadway record for this play until 1999)
OUR TOWN AND THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, 1938-48

1938

Our Town opens on Broadway (Pulitzer Prize); performs role of The Stage Manager for two weeks

1942

The Skin of Our Teeth opens on Broadway (Pulitzer Prize)
Writes screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Shadow of a Doubt

1942-45

Military service with Army Air Force Intelligence in North Africa and Italy

1948

The Ides of March (novel)
Performs in his plays in summer stock
The Victors off-Broadway (translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Morts Sans Sépulture)
MIDDLE YEARS, 1949-57

1949

Major role in Goethe Convocation in Aspen; lectures widely abroad

1951-52

Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard

1952

Gold Medal for Fiction, American Academy of Arts and Letters

1953

On cover of Time Magazine (January 12)

1955

The Matchmaker opens on Broadway with Ruth Gordon (revision of the 1938 play, The Merchant of Yonkers)
The Alcestiad produced at Edinburgh Festival (as A Life in the Sun) with Irene Worth

1957

Awarded German Booksellers Peace Prize, first American to receive this award
LATER YEARS, 1961-75

1961

Opera version of The Long Christmas Dinner (music by Paul Hindemith, libretto by Wilder) premieres in Mannheim, Germany (December 20)

1962

Plays for Bleeker Street (Someone from Assisi, Infancy, and Childhood) performed at Circle in the Square Theater in New York City
Operatic version of The Alcestiad (music by Louise Talma, libretto by Wilder) premieres in Frankfurt, Germany (February 28)

1963

Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

1964

Hello, Dolly! Opens on Broadway starring Carol Channing

1965

Awarded National Book Committee’s Medal for Literature

1967

The Eighth Day (novel); receives National Book Award for Fiction

1975

Dies in sleep in Hamden, Connecticut (December 7)