70. Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey


The idea for The Bridge of San Luis Rey came to Thornton Wilder as he strolled along the winding path from the Graduate College into the town of Princeton, and he began to write the book in his room on the top floor of the eleventh entryway of the Graduate College.  Though he completed his master’s degree in Modern Languages in 1926, Wilder remained in the Princeton area until 1928, the same year this novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.  He later won two additional Pulitzers for his dramas—Our Town, which premiered at McCarter Theatre in 1938, and The Skin of Our Teeth in 1943.  Another of his plays, The Matchmaker, later formed the basis of the hit Broadway musical Hello, Dolly.  The University awarded Wilder its highest honor for graduate alumni, the James Madison Medal, in 1974—just one year before his death.

  • To learn more about Princeton writers, see quotation #6, 15, 21, 22, and 24, and Café Vivian picture #17, 60, 67, and 91.

  • To learn more about recipients of the James Madison Medal, see quotation #3, 5, 30, and 31, and Café Vivian picture #122 and 125.

  • To learn more about notable Princeton graduate alumni, see quotation #3, 5, 30, 31, and 34 and Café Vivian picture #59, and 131.