Born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1897,
Thornton Wilder was the second of the
Wilder’s five children. His breakthrough
novel was The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927).
The book earned Wilder his first Pulitzer Prize.
While living in Chicago, Wilder became close
friends with fellow lecturer Gertrude Stein and
her companion, Alice B. Toklas. In fact, Stein’s
novel The Making of Americans (1925) is said
to have inspired Wilder’s Our Town (1938). A
huge success on Broadway, Our Town earned
Wilder his second Pulitzer, making him the only American author to win Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and drama. Wilder died at the age of 78 in Hamden, Connecticut, where he had lived for many years with his devoted sister Isabel.