Thornton Wilder is regarded by most as a New Englander, with a house in Hamden, Connecticut, built with early proceeds from The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and a second home purchased in 1966 in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Throughout his adult life, however, Wilder had a recurring urgency to leave home when he was working on novels or plays. For over a third of his life, he found a temporary refuge in the American Southwest. He established deep friendships there with fellow writers Mabel Dodge Luhan and Witter Bynner and found desert retreats in which to start one novel (The Eighth Day), finish another (Heaven's My Destination), and write most of his play The Merchant of Yonkers. This article theorizes that Wilder, like characters in Heaven's My Destination and Theophilus North, might have been in Wilder biographer Penelope Niven's words, a lifelong traveler “searching for home” (672). For Wilder, the Southwest may have been as close to a creative and spiritual home as any he would ever find.

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