Now in its thirty-fifth year, the Thornton Wilder Writing Competition was established 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 New Haven County public, private and parochial high school students. Over the years we have awarded cash prizes to hundreds of students for their creative writing efforts, and we encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity.

The entries for the competition may be any work of fiction: short stories, poetry, scripts, one-act plays or selections from longer works. Entries are limited to 2500 words, only one prose and one poetry piece per student, please. Entries, along with an application form, should be sent to TWilder@hamdenlibrary.org or mailed to:

Thornton Wilder Writing Competition
2901 Dixwell Ave.
Hamden CT 06518

Applications must be received by Friday, March 5, 2021

The prizes are:

First Place, Prose $500                 Second Prize, Prose $300                  Honorable Mention $100

First Place Poetry $500                Second Place, Poetry $300                Honorable Mention $100


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.