Monika Lehman, Beinecke Library | The Wilder-Proust Questionnaire

With the 3rd International Thornton Wilder Conference just around the corner, scholars, friends and fans of TW answer 7 short questions, giving us a window into their Wilderian identities: Monika Lehman, Project Archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, is currently arranging, describing and fully processing the Wilder Family papers. The collection, consisting of over 165 linear feet of material, includes photographs, posters, artwork, correspondence, scrapbooks, printed materials, audiovisual, and born digital materials. The collection is made up of material created by and once belonging to Thornton Wilder and his family members: his parents, Amos and Isabella, his brother, Amos, his sisters Isabel, Charlotte, and Janet, as well as other extended family members including his sister- in- law, Catharine Kerlin, his aunt Charlotte Niven, and his nephew Tappan Wilder, and his niece Catharine Dix Wilder Guiles.

As part of her work, Monika took advantage of the Gallery 344 program established by the Beinecke Workplace Culture Group to promote the Wilder Family Papers. The program allows for a staff member to submit a proposal to curate a small exhibit in the space outside of Technical Services. The exhibit, entitled The Wilder Women, focused on the varied interests of Thornton Wilder’s mother, sisters, sister-in-law, and niece, and highlights each woman’s accomplishment through a piece of evidence such as a poem, a letter, or a watercolor, as well as a photograph which encapsulates her as a person. The exhibit was installed in May and will be on display until August when another staff member installs the next exhibit.

1. What is your favorite Wilder quote? “Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. ...Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?”- Our Town

2. What is your favorite Wilder work? 

The Skin of Our Teeth

3. Describe Wilder in three adjectives. 

Prolific, creative, complicated

4. With which Wilder character do you most identify / which character do you find is most like you?

The dinosaur in The Skin of Our Teeth (I’m always cold)

5. Who is your favorite Wilder hero or antihero?

Emily Webb Gibbs

6. Who is your favorite fictional Wilder woman?

Sabine from The Skin of Our Teeth

7. What is Wilder's best love scene?

Emily and George in Our Town