Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Yale and Princeton, was an accomplished American novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of his seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, and his next-to-last novel, The Eighth Day received the National Book Award (1968). Two of his four major plays won Pulitzer Prizes, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). His play, The Matchmaker ran on Broadway for 486 performances (1955-1957) and was later adapted into the record-breaking musical Hello, Dolly!
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.