Special Collections and Archives

Thornton Wilder papers

Thornton Wilder papers, 1926-57

Finding Aid

Prepared for the Web by Barbara Bass, June 12, 2002
1 document case, .33 cubic foot, 11th floor


Biographical Note

Thornton Niven Wilder was born April 17, 1897 in Madison, Wisconsin, to Amos Parker and Isabella Thornton (Niven) Wilder. While attending Oberlin College, Wilder began to write short plays; later, he would become known for the innovative, fantastic elements situated amid homestyle, American charm that permeated his best known works. After completing his education he taught French and was also Assistant Master of Davis House at Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, from 1925-27. From 1927-28 he engaged in writing and his first cross-country tour. He worked for several motion picture studios from 1930-1936. Wilder won the Pulitzer prize three times, for The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1928), Our Town (1938), and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). In addition to his career as a playwright, Wilder was also a novelist, teacher, lecturer, translator, essayist, literary scholar, and librettist. He died in 1975 while working on a sequel to his final novel.


Scope and Content

Thornton Wilder's papers contain correspondence to Mr. and Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin, Frederic Prokosch and others. Materials are arranged in chronological order.


Box 1
Folder -- Contents

  1. Correspondence: Thornton Wilder to Louiee: Nov. 10, 1926
  2. Correspondence: Thornton Wilder to Mr. _____ Blodgett: Feb. 20, 1928
  3. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. & Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Nov. 12, 1928
  4. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Nov. 24, 1928
  5. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: May 2, 1929
  6. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Aug. 16 and Sept. 15, 1929
  7. Correspondence: Thornton Wilder to Mr. & Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Dec. 13, 1929
  8. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. & Mrs. B. Kirk Rankin: Apr. 10, 1930
  9. Correspondence: Thornton Wilder to Miss Spencer: Oct. 19, 1930
  10. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. & Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Sept. 23, 1935
  11. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Feb. 10, 1936
  12. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Feb. 10, 1936
  13. Correspondence: Thornton N. Wilder to Frederic Prokosch: June 20, 1926
  14. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: July 22, 1936
  15. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Frederic Prokosch: Dec. 26, 1936
  16. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Frederic Prokosch: Feb. 13, 1937
  17. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: Dec. 29,1938
  18. Correspondence: Thornton Wilder to Eleanor R. Heinz: Nov. 9, 1939
  19. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. ______ Stryber: June 13, 1946
  20. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Brooke: Apr. 18, 1947
  21. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. Johnson: May 27, 1948
  22. Play: "The Matchmaker": 1957
  23. Correspondence: Isabel Wilder to Mrs. Roark Bradford: Oct. 18, 1965
  24. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Roark Bradford: Jan. 19, 1966
  25. Play: "Our Town": Mar. 29,1967
  26. Play: "Pullman Car Hiawatha": undated
  27. Play: "Queens of France": undated
  28. Correspondence: Isabel Wilder to Mrs. B. Kirk Rankin: undated
  29. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: undated
  30. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to Mr. & Mrs. Bunyan Kirk Rankin: undated
  31. Correspondence: Thornton Niven Wilder to ________: undated