The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder


Product Details

Harper Perennial
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.9 X 1.3 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Jackson R. Bryer is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland. He is the coeditor of Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill and of Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Robin G. Wilder is an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in history who specializes in archival research. She is the niece by marriage of Thornton Wilder and knew him well.

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, the opera, and films. (His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of Doubt [1943] remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day.) Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.


"[An] essential gathering of letters, carefully edited and abundantly annotated. . . . Like the best collections of correspondence in the hands of sensitive editors, this one peels away the quotidian to reveal the underlying personality of its subject." -- Publishers Weekly

"If you'd like to know how it feels to be a distinguished and popular author of both plays and novels for a good part of the 20th century, and to correspond with famous friends and a talented family, and to be a central figure in the events of one's time, then this is a good book to roll around in." -- A.R. Gurney, author of Love Letters

"Students and devotees of Wilder will find this a useful companion to his literary work." -- Library Journal

"A staggering range of acquaintance. . . . Wilder was a charmer. . . . His letters are chatty, intimate, appealingly self-deprecating." -- New Republic?

"Wilder's writing is sharply etched and generous of spirit. [In Selected Letters] he consistently discharges the obligation he imposed on his correspondents: that their letters 'intimate the alterations of climate in their hearts and minds.'" -- Times Literary Supplement (London)

"A book to treasure and to share. . . . A remarkable collection of letters covering more than 60 years of Thornton Wilder's life that become, in page after page, a blueprint of this brilliant, compassionate, truthful, loving man whose wit and superb command of language include the reader in a history of his friendships, of his family. What emerges from these pages is a new and sometimes surprising self-portrait of a great American artist." -- Marian Seldes