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Thornton Wilder Writing Competition

This is the twenty-ninth year of the Thornton Wilder Writing Competition. It was established in 1987 by the Friends of the Hamden Library to honor long-time Hamden resident and Pulitzer Prize winning author and playwright, Thornton Wilder.  The competition is open to all Connecticut public, private, and parochial high school students in New Haven County.  Over the years we have awarded cash prizes to approximately 100 students for their creative writing efforts and we hope to encourage students from your school to take advantage of this opportunity. 

The entries for the competition may be short stories, essays, poetry, television scripts, one -act plays, or selections from longer works.  Entries are limited to one prose and one poetry piece per student.  Entries, along with an application form should be sent to or mailed to Thornton Wilder Writing Competiton 2901 Dixwell Ave. Hamden CT 06518 by February 3, 2017.  Because of the expected volume of material, we would appreciate each teacher’s assistance as a preliminary screening agent.  Please help us by posting the enclosed notice on your bulletin board or by making it available online.  

The prizes are:
First Prize, Prose $500               Second Prize, Prose $300           Honorable Mention $50
First Prize, Poetry $500             Second Prize, Poetry $300         Honorable Mention $50

The awards will be presented at a reception Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7p.m. in the Miller Library.  Winning entries will be read to the audience.  A reception will follow the presentations.  Teachers, families, and the public are encouraged to attend.   

We look forward to your students' participation in 2017.  GOOD LUCK!


About Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1897. He studied at Oberlin College and Yale University and later became a teacher of literature and creative writing. Both a novelist and a playwright, he is considered one of the most important American writers. He won three Pulitzer Prizes: for the novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), and for two plays, Our Town (1938), and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Another play, The Merchant of Yonkers (1939), which he rewrote as The Matchmaker, became the basis for the popular musical Hello, Dolly.

Wilder is not only an internationally known and respected author. Because he lived in Hamden from 1929 until his death in 1975, Hamden also claims him as one of its most noted residents. He is the inspiration for the annual Hamden writing competition for high school students, begun in 1986 by Augusta Thomas and the Friends of the Hamden Library. The prizes that are awarded each year have been made possible by a generous endowment from Thornton Wilder’s sister, Isabel Wilder, who resided in Hamden until her death in 1995.