Thornton Wilder’s Desert Oasis

For the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Douglas, Arizona was a place to “refresh the wells” and drive into the sunset

Thornton Wilder discovered Douglas, Arizona, when his T-Bird broke down. (Douglas Historical Society)
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Who among us doesn't seek a hideaway, a place without distractions, a neutral space in which to do whatever it is that nurtures us—solitude without loneliness? Thornton Wilder regained his literary voice in remote Arizona, and for him his temporary hometown's name became synonymous with rejuvenation. More than five years after departing the Arizona desert he wrote a friend: "Ever since I keep hunting for another 'Douglas.' "

Tom Miller has written ten books about the American Southwest and Latin America, including The Panama Hat Trail.


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