Thornton Wilder: A Life is the first biography of this pivotal, pioneering American playwright and novelist to be based on unprecedented access to thousands of pages of letters, public and private journals, manuscripts and other documentary evidence of Wilder’s life, work and times. Penelope Niven has worked for more than a decade with unprecedented access to the Wilder papers in her exploration of his public life and work, and much of what he called the drama of his inner life.
He was a multifaceted man–son, brother, student, soldier, teacher, novelist, playwright, lecturer, actor, musician, man of letters, international public figure. A very private man, he possessed a remarkable gift for friendship, and the biography offers portraits of friends he made as he traveled the globe–countless private people, and such public figures as boxing champion Gene Tunney, Laurence Olivier, Hadley Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Montgomery Clift, Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin and Mia Farrow.
Within the body of Wilder’s published and unpublished work, there stands the man, his private, inward self sometimes revealed and sometimes hidden in his art and in his papers. Thornton Wilder: A Life brings the private man center stage, and in the process, sheds new light on his work.
“A powerful and much-needed portrayal of a major American writer and social critic.” (New York Times Book Review on Carl Sandburg: A Biography )
“Niven complements her own clear, lyrical voice with the eloquent words of Steichen’s contemporaries.” (New York Times Book Review on Steichen: A Biography )
Almost everybody knows Our Town, but very few people really know Thornton Wilder. Penelope Niven’s fascinating biography changes that once and for all…Meticulously researched, Niven’s book reads like a riveting novel. (—James Earl Jones )
“This new biography of Wilder — comprehensive and wisely fashioned — gives us sufficient view of his methods, his public and private life, and the reaches of his mind…This book is a splendid and long needed work.” (—Edward Albee )
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/30/2012