The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Thornton Wilder, RIP

Thornton Wilder, courtesy of Yale Collection of of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The prolific and exuberant Thornton Niven Wilder died on this day 36 years ago. Today, we're paying homage to the man behind American classics such as The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town, considered by playwright Edward Albee to be "the finest American play ever written." Wilder's old friend, actress Marian Seldes, beautifully summarizes the larger-than-life writer, teacher, and, above all, friend. Penelope Niven, who also chimes in, has a Wilder biography coming out in 2012.

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov//audio/WilderDeath.mp3]

[transcript]

To hear the entire Big Read documentary dedicated to Wilder and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, please go to The Big Read website.. The audio program is narrated by actor Sam Waterston and includes wonderful commentary by a diverse group of writers and thinkers, including Wilder's nephew, Tappan Wilder.

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