Napier Wilt


Honorary Degree (1954)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Herman B Wells


Napier Wilt was born in 1895 in Hillsboro, Indiana. He attended Indiana University, where he completed an A.B. in 1917. He earned an M.A. in 1921 from the University of Chicago, and finished his Ph.D. in 1923. His area of study was American literature, with a concentration on American drama and humor. His dissertation for University of Chicago was a day-by-day history of the Chicago Theatre, entitled, "The History of the two Rice Theaters in Chicago from 1847-57." After his military service in World War II, Wilt took a professorship of English at University of Chicago. From 1951 until he retired in 1962 he served U of Chicago as Dean of the Humanities. During the 1950's he assisted with the funding of a visiting writers program, the goal of which was to bring in American's great writers to Chicago to encourage students in writing programs and offer critiques of student works. Wilt wrote expansively on the history of the Chicago theaters, amassing a large index on the history of Chicago theatrical productions during the nineteenth century, as well as editing several books, including "Some American Humorists."