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Thornton Wilder



Thornton Wilder
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.22

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    eliot, following, screenplay, novelist, archaeology, revision, playwright, corporal, instability, lieutenant, writing, onset, diplomat, adviser, rejoined, historical
     content words:    Thornton Wilder, Isabella Wilder, Because Amos Wilder, United States, Hong Kong, American Consul General, English China Inland Mission Chefoo School, Thatcher School, Creekside Middle School, Berkeley High School


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Thornton Wilder
By Jamie Kee
  

1     Thornton Wilder, a well-known American playwright and novelist, was born on April 17, 1897, in Madison, Wisconsin. He was one of five children born to parents Amos and Isabella Wilder. Two other children died at birth. Because Amos Wilder was a United States diplomat, all of the Wilder children spent some of their childhood in China due to his work. The family moved to Hong Kong in 1906 because Wilder's father was appointed American Consul General. Six months later Isabella Wilder returned to the United States with her children. In 1911 the family rejoined again in Shanghai where Wilder's father was transferred. Wilder stayed in China for a year where he attended the English China Inland Mission Chefoo School at Yantai. Because of political instability, Wilder's mother again returned to the United States with the children in 1912 and settled in California.
 
2     Thornton Wilder first began writing plays while attending the Thatcher School in California. He spent most of his time in the library distancing himself from the other students because he did not fit in and was often teased. Thornton also attended Creekside Middle School and later graduated from Berkeley High School in 1915.
 
3     During World War I, Wilder served for eight months in the Coast Artillery Corps as a corporal at the onset of the war. Afterwards, he attended Oberlin College. When his family moved to Connecticut, Wilder entered Yale University where he later earned his B.A. in 1920. It was during his time at Yale when Wilder wrote his first full-length play, The Trumpet Shall Sound, which was published in Yale Literary Magazine but not produced until 1926. Wilder then went to Rome and studied archaeology at the American Academy.

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