During World War I, Wilder served two years in the Coast Guard.
Wilder attended college at Oberlin in Ohio and then transferred to Yale, where his first full-length play, The Trumpet Shall Sound, was published in the prestigious Yale Literary Magazine in 1920, later to be produced onstage in 1926.
The following year saw publication of his second novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which won him the Pulitzer Prize.
He won a second Pulitzer in 1938 for his play Our Town and a third in 1942 for the play The Skin of Our Teeth.
The second section focuses on one of the victims of the collapse: Doña María, the Marquesa de Montemayor.
She was the daughter of a cloth merchant, an ugly child who eventually entered into an arranged marriage and bore a daughter, Clara, whom she loved dearly.When she learns that her daughter in Spain is pregnant, Doña María decides to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Santa María de Cluxambuqua.Pepita goes along as company and to supervise the staff.Later, she asks Pepita about the letter, and Pepita says she burned it because it was not brave to write it.Doña María has new insight into the ways in which her own life has lacked bravery, but the next morning, returning to Lima, she and Pepita are on the bridge when it collapses.His second famous play was The Matchmaker, a 1955 Broadway production that was based on Wilder's 1939 play The Merchant of Yonkers and which itself became the basis for the musical Hello, Dolly.In all, he wrote seven novels and over a dozen plays and is credited for translating several foreign plays into English.Wilder died in his sleep on December 7, 1975, in Hamden, Connecticut, of a heart attack.The first few pages of the first chapter of The Bridge of San Luis Rey explain the book's basic premise: this story centers on an event that happened in Lima, Peru, at noon of Friday, June 12, 1714.Curious about why God would allow such a tragedy, he decides to take a scientific approach to the question.He sets out to interview everyone he can find who knew the five victims.