Although maligned through the ages, the art of biography generously bestows normally unavailable insights into the lives of others. Even while based on archival documents, biographies contain the bias of the author. That said, the inevitable inequity of the relationship between Louise Talma and Thornton Wilder is portrayed in their correspondence; but so too is Wilder’s careful and compassionate encouragement of Talma, who worked for years on her magnum opus, an adaptation of Wilder’s play The Alcestiad as an opera, while also holding down a teaching job at Hunter College (though she had many sabbaticals and breaks). The delight of these two creative artists in their shared craft—and also in each other—is just one of the gifts apparent in their correspondence. This is not to say that there were no complications, but this article about the letters they exchanged reveals the gold biographers crave.

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