The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder by Gertrude Stein
The friendship and correspondence of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder encompassed the last 12 years of Stein's life and a period of major work by Wilder. A generation apart in age, the two writers met during Stein's American lecture tour in 1934-35, during which they shared the experience of lecturing to audiences in the wake of great success. They quickly became mentor and pupil as well as friends, and Wilder passed on what Stein taught him through his introduction to her books. While Wilder supported Stein's efforts at publication, she held him to his vocation as a writer, urging him to ignore the distractions incurred by family and fortune. The letters between Stein and Wilder contain ideas and plans about publications, attitudes towards fame and work and thoughts about artists and people near to them. They also refer to European-American cultural relations prior to and through World War II, show how Stein and Wilder responded to critical reception of their new work, and above all, examine how the two writers affected one another's progress. It is clear from the letters that without their friendship, Stein's Narration lectures would not have come about, The Geographical History and the novel Ida would have become different books and Wilder's Our Town might not have become the play we know. The edition, fully annotated by Edward M. Burns and Ulla E. Dydo, includes a detailed chronology of Stein's lecture tour prepared by William Rice, staging histories of Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth and an account of Stein in World War II with documentation.