Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder

Like many reading this, I remember reading (and acting) Our Town in high school, and being too young to really appreciate it. Now that I’m older, I can see the truth of the play, of being aware of life as one lives it. Wilder, however, wrote many other things besides that one play.

Thornton Niven Wilder, born April 17, 1897, was an American playwright and novelist. He won three Pulitzer Prizes—for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and for the two plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth – and a U.S. National Book Award for the novel The Eighth Day. He also wrote The Matchmaker upon which “Hello, Dolly” was based.

Some have described the major themes of his works as “the timeless human condition; history as progressive, cyclical, or entropic; literature, philosophy, and religion as the touchstones of civilization.” Basically, he looks at humanity and sees how our humanity doesn’t change with time, that we need love and companionship, and have the need to find significance in our lives.

He left us a treasure trove of great quotes from his works.


Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough. (Our Town)

Does anybody realize what life is while they’re living it- every, every minute? (Our Town)

I’ve never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for — whether it’s a field, or a home, or a country. (The Skin of Our Teeth)

Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow. (The Matchmaker)

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate — that’s my philosophy. (The Skin of Our Teeth)

Ninety-nine per cent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in great danger of contagion. (The Matchmaker)

People are meant to go through life two by two. ’Tain’t natural to be lonesome. (Our Town)

On the stage it is always now; the personages are standing on that razor edge, between the past and the future, which is the essential character of conscious being; the words are rising to their lips in immediate spontaneity … The theater is supremely fitted to say: “Behold! These things are.” (Writers at Work interview, 1958)

The planting of trees is the least self-centered of all that we do. It is a purer act of faith than the procreation of children. (The Eighth Day)

Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.

There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being. (Our Town)

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at