Thornton Wilder by Penelope Niven
A Life

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Ms. Niven has delivered a swift-moving historical narrative, replete with vivid encounters...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

"Thornton Wilder: A Life brings readers face to face with the extraordinary man who made words come alive around the world, on the stage and on the page."
—James Earl Jones, actor

"Comprehensive and wisely fashioned….This book is a splendid and long needed work."
—Edward Albee, playwright

Thornton Wilder—three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, creator of such enduring stage works as Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and beloved novels like Bridge of San Luis Ray and Theophilus North—was much more than a pivotal figure in twentieth century American theater and literature. He was a world-traveler, a student, a teacher, a soldier, an actor, a son, a brother, and a complex, intensely private man who kept his personal life a secret. In Thornton Wilder: A Life, author Penelope Niven pulls back the curtain to present a fascinating, three-dimensional portrait one of America's greatest playwrights, novelists, and literary icons.

 

About Penelope Niven

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Penelope Niven is the critically acclaimed author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography; Steichen: A Biography; Voices and Silences, co-authored with the actor James Earl Jones; and Swimming Lessons, a memoir. Her biography for children, Carl Sandburg: Adventures of a Poet, was awarded an International Reading Association Prize. Niven has received two honorary doctorates, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Thornton Wilder Visiting Fellowship at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, as well as the North Carolina Award in Literature. She lectures both here and abroad, and has served as an editor for various publications and a consultant for television. The former Writer-in-Residence at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, wher she lives. Visit her website at www.penelopeniven.com.
 
Published October 30, 2012 by Harper. 869 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Thornton Wilder
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Blake Bailey on Dec 28 2012

Whom is Niven appeasing with all her cant about privacy? Wilder? Wilder’s dead, and you relinquish a certain degree of privacy by dying...

Read Full Review of Thornton Wilder: A Life | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Charles Isherwood on Oct 31 2012

Perhaps understandably in a book this big...about a life this wide ranging, Ms. Niven’s biography flags a bit in the late going, as Wilder’s literary output wanes, and is occasionally marred by repetition.

Read Full Review of Thornton Wilder: A Life | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Leo Robson on Dec 07 2012

Ms. Niven has delivered a swift-moving historical narrative, replete with vivid encounters...

Read Full Review of Thornton Wilder: A Life | See more reviews from WSJ online

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