Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker to be announced soon!

Meet last year’s Keynote Speaker:


Tappan Wilder (as he is known) is Thornton Wilder’s nephew and has served as the literary executor and manager of his uncle’s intellectual property since 1995. He plays a similar role for the literary legacies of Thornton Wilder’s three sisters and brother, all of whom were also writers.

In 2006 Tappan completed work on a nine-volume HarperCollins re-issue of Thornton Wilder’s novels and major plays. For each volume in this series he contributed an Afterword containing a history of the work together with selected readings, many from unpublished sources.  Earlier, he served as co-editor (with Donald Gallup) of TCG’s two-volume edition of Thornton Wilder’s short plays. He is currently engaged in revisions of selected titles in the HarperCollins re-issue series, overseeing new or revised acting editions for all of Wilder’s dramatic works, and preparing Wilder’s translations and adaptations for publication by TCG in 2015/16.  Tappan oversaw Wipf & Stock Publishers’ republication of seventeen of Amos Niven Wilder’s works covering the fields of New Testament studies, literature and religion, literary criticism and poetry.

Tappan consulted with the scholarly team of Robin G. Wilder and Jackson R. Bryer, editors of The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder, published by HarperCollins in 2008, and with J.D. McClatchy, editor of the Library of America’s three volumes devoted to Thornton Wilder’s drama and fiction (published 2007, 2009 & 2012).  For more than a decade, he worked closely with Penelope Niven, whose biography Thornton Wilder: A Life (2012) is the first Wilder biography to draw on extensive Wilder family materials never before made available to researchers.

Tappan has also had the pleasure of overseeing several successful new works based on his uncle’s plays, among them the Our Town opera (libretto by J.D. McClatchy, score by Ned Rorem) which premiered in 2006, and an adaptation of George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem (begun by Wilder in 1939 and completed by Ken Ludwig in 2006).

Tappan, who speaks widely about his uncle’s life, is a graduate of Yale College and holds a MA in history from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and a M. Phil in American Studies from Yale. Before moving to the Washington, DC area in 1979 to help establish Partners for Livable Places (now Communities), he held a number of administrative positions at Yale, principally in the field of urban studies.  He now lives in Northern California.

Tappan is a member of P.E.N. (American Center), a former Trustee of the Yale Library Associates, an honorary trustee of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, and a member of the National Council of Graywolf Press.  He is also proud to serve as Honorary Chair of The Thornton Wilder Society.