Everyone’s Town: Thornton Wilder’s Legacy

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Speaker: Penelope Niven

Although Our Town, which turned 75 in 2013, was set in a small New Hampshire village and written in 1938, its universality has made it a favorite of theater companies and schools for decades. Wilder biographer Penelope Niven joins us to share the story of his life (and his Maine ancestry), how Wilder came to write the play, and the special appeal of its themes of the passage of time and small-town life.

Penelope Niven’s 2012 biography of Wilder (Thornton Wilder: A Life, Harper), was deemed “the best kind of literary biography” by the Washington Post. Niven is also the acclaimed author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography and Steichen: A Biography. She has been awarded two honorary doctorates, four fellowships, and is the recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature.