Thornton Wilder Library Will Be Completed With Reissue Of Two Early Novels This Week

The Thornton Wilder Library – a reprint of 10 novels and plays covering the full range of the late, celebrated author’s inimitable body-of-work – will be completed this summer with the new publication by HarperCollins of Wilder’s first and third novels, THE CABALA and THE WOMAN OF ANDROS in one volume, due in bookstores and online ( starting Tuesday, August 9, it has been announced by Tappan Wilder, Thornton Wilder’s nephew and literary executor .

The reissue of THE CABALA and THE WOMAN OF ANDROS coincides with the 125th anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s birthday – titled WILDER 125-which is being celebrated throughout 2022 with a host of stage revivals and special events nationwide. The August 9th release of the two novels is the culmination of a six-year collaboration with the Wilder family and HarperCollins.

To date, the Wilder Library has added new editions of the plays OUR TOWN, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH and THE MATCHMAKER (along with THE THREE PLAYS volume), and the novels, THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, HEAVEN’S MY DESTINATION, THE IDES OF MARCH, THE EIGHTH DAY and THEOPHILUS NORTH.

Tappan Wilder notes that the completion of the Thornton Wilder Library is “the most important reprinting of these works,” adding that “the project included a review of existing Forewords to each volume by Wilder’s fellow authors and playwrights.” The volumes also include fine-tuned, revised ‘Afterwords’ by Tappan Wilder, with his unique perspective into the elder Wilder’s life and career.

Featuring new covers, the Wilder Library releases are also available in audio and digital formats.

THE CABALA (1926) is the tale of a young American student who witnesses firsthand the decaying royalty in post-World War I Rome. An extraordinary succes d’estime hailed for style and vivid portraits, the novel opened the door for Wilder’s publishers to release THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY (1927) the following year, the staggering best-seller that changed Wilder’s life. THE WOMAN OF ANDROS (1930), is the primary source for Thornton Wilder’s most famous PLAY, OUR TOWN (1938). Set before the birth of Christ, THE WOMAN OF ANDROS depicts the harsh life of a hauntingly beautiful courtesan. Her telling in the novel of how the King of the Dead did Zeus a favor by returning a friend to life for a day on a certain day in his 15th year is the first sighting of Emily Webb’s return after her death in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire .

Wilder’s novels and plays accounted for three Pulitzer Prizes, a National Book Award and, with a single exception, all the novels achieved bestseller status. His works range from Julius Caesar’s Rome in 44 BCE(The Ides of March) to 17th century Lima, Peru (The Bridge of San Luis Rey), to Emily Webb in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire in 1900 (Our Town), to Theophilus North’s Newport, Rhode Island of the 1920s (Theophilus. North), to a murder in Coaltown, Illinois in1902 (The Eighth Day), Dolly Levi chasing a husband in Yonkers, New York in the late 19th century (The Matchmaker), to a couple married for 5,000 years living in Excelsior, New Jersey in the 20th century (The Skin of Our Teeth), to a traveling salesman chasing perfection across the midwest-and southwest during the Great Depression (Heaven’s My Destination).

“There is something for everybody in Thornton Wilder,” said Tappan Wilder. “My uncle, a born storyteller, combined his immense knowledge of the classics, religious traditions and the literary and dramatic record down through the ages with stories inspired by his own trials, tribulations, and dreams and those of people he met across a lifetime of travel and observation. He did so in a myriad of written and dramatic forms that explored the cosmic in the commonplace of everyday existence on page or stage, he tried to speak for all of us and to all of us.”

Thornton Wilder was born in 1897 and died in 1975. He remains one of the world’s most revered authors and widely-produced playwrights.

Rosey Strub is director of programming for WILDER 125: Amanda Woods is in charge of special events; and Ryan Pointer is graphic designer.

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