Wilder Queries: Wilder Biographies

Q: Which Wilder biography would you recommend? And, for that matter, do you have any other suggestions for auxiliary reading about Wilder?

A: As of October 30, 2012, the definitive biography will be Thornton Wilder: A Life by Penelope Niven. Unlike the biographies by Goldstone, Simon, or Harrison, Niven is a professional biographer who had the full¬†cooperation of the Wilder family, and thus access to letters, manuscripts, and other archival material never before available.¬† As for other books, I think Donald Haberman’s The Plays of Thornton Wilder (Wesleyan University Press, 1967) is excellent; for plays and novels, Malcolm Goldstein’s The Art of Thornton Wilder (University of Nebraska Press, 1965) is still very good. For more recent literary criticism on Wilder, check out the collection of articles Thornton Wilder: New Essays, edited by Martin Blank, Dalma Brunhauer, and David Garrett Izzo (Locust Hill Press, 1999).

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