Thornton Wilder: A Life, by Penelope Niven

March 20, 2012

On Sale October 30, 2012
Biography Cover.pngThornton Wilder: A Life is the first biography of this pivotal, pioneering American playwright and novelist to be based on thousands of pages of letters, public and private journals, manuscripts and other documentary evidence of Wilder's life, work and times. Biographer Penelope Niven (Carl Sandburg: A Biography; Steichen: A Biography; Voices and Silences, co-authored with James Earl Jones) 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.

This biography presents a three-dimensional Wilder as never seen before. A multifaceted man--son, brother, student, soldier, teacher, novelist, playwright, lecturer, actor, musician, man of letters, international public figure-he was also enigmatic and intensely private. Because he was a member of a close-knit, complicated family, this is a family saga, starring Thornton Wilder, with strong supporting roles played by his father, mother, and siblings: two brilliant parents, five gifted children, and, for Thornton, the specter of his twin brother lost at birth. This very private man possessed a remarkable gift for friendship, and the biography offers portraits of friends he made as he traveled the globe, including countless private people of all ages and stations in life, and such public figures as Gene Tunney, Laurence Olivier, Alexander Woollcott, Hadley Hemingway, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Gertrude Stein, Montgomery Clift, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin.

Equally at home in the realms of fiction and drama, Wilder was honored in his own country and around the world, and his novels and plays still speak to a global audience. Yet despite the international fame and visibility of the writer, far too little has been known or understood about the man. Within the body of Wilder's published and unpublished work, there stands the person, his private, inward self sometimes hidden and sometimes revealed in his art and in his papers.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.

To schedule an interview or an appearance with PENELOPE NIVEN, contact:
Kate Blum

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