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Did the real-life Emily of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” grow up in Ojai?
Sunday, November 28, 2021, 03:00pm

Since its Broadway debut in 1938, Thornton Wilder’s beloved classic “Our Town” has been among the most frequently produced plays in America,

including many productions at the Ojai Art Center and elsewhere in the valley.

What few in Ojai may realize is that “Our Town” has local roots that can be traced to Wilder’s year as a Thacher School student in 1912-13 – and that the play’s main protagonist, Emily Webb,

has a possible real-life Ojai antecedent in Helen Baker Reynolds (1896-1988), whose unpublished memoirs shed light on Wilder’s time in the valley.

This Sunday, November 28, at 3 p.m. the Art Center presents a conversation between Literary Branch Chair Mark Lewis and Ojai historian Craig Walker,

who is preparing Helen’s memoirs for possible publication. Lewis and Walker will discuss the many interesting parallels between the fictional Emily and the real-life Helen,

a Wilder contemporary who crossed paths with the future playwright during his year at Thacher.

Lewis and Walker also will explore the extent to which Ojai might have been a model for Grover’s Corners, the fictional setting for “Our Town.”

This Literary Branch event will take place in the Art Center patio, which is an outdoors venue so masks will not be required – but please be vaccinated.

A suggested $5 donation will be appreciated. The Art Center is at 113 S. Montgomery St.

Helen Baker in 1915 Nordhoff Yearbook

Location Ojai Art Center Patio, 113 S. Montgomery St, Ojai