In addition to his theatrical works, Thornton penned three prominent novels during his time in New Jersey – The Trumpet Shall Sound, The Cabala, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The Bridge of San Luis Rey won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1928 and continues to be one of the most notable works of the twentieth century -- Tony Blair quoted the novel in his speech following the tragedies of 9/11. His illustrious career continued throughout the twentieth century. He won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1957, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and a National Book Award in 1968 for his novel The Eighth Day. Thornton continued to teach and write until 1975, when he passed away from heart failure.