Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe left an indelible mark on American letters. His mother's boardinghouse in Asheville, North Carolina—now the Thomas Wolfe Memorial—has become one of literature's most famous landmarks. Named "Old Kentucky Home" by a previous owner, Wolfe immortalized the rambling Victorian structure as "Dixieland" in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel. A classic of Southern literature, Look Homeward, Angel has never gone out of print since its publication in 1929, keeping interest in Wolfe alive and attracting visitors to the setting for this great novel.

Thomas Clayton Wolfe, the last of his parents' eight children, was born on October 3, 1900, at 92 Woodfin Street in Asheville. His father, William Oliver Wolfe (1851-1922), was descended from hardy Pennsylvania German-English-Dutch farmers; his mother, Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe (1860-1945), was a third-generation North Carolinian of Scots-Irish-English stock. Julia Wolfe did not operate the boardinghouse out of any financial necessity. W. O. Wolfe could well afford to support the family with the earnings of the tombstone shop he owned and operated on Asheville's city square. But former teacher Julia Wolfe had an obsession for the real estate market and used her profits to buy more property. A shrewd and hard-nosed businesswoman, family members remembered Julia Wolfe as a "driver of hard bargains."

Today the rooms of Thomas Wolfe's childhood and adolescence contain furnishings that permanently symbolize the daily routine of life in both fact and fiction. In Wolfe's second novel, Of Time and the River (1935), 14 years before the "Old Kentucky Home" became a memorial, Wolfe already had intuitively assessed the house's true importance: his mother's "old dilapidated house had now become a fit museum." The house is preserved almost intact with original Wolfe furnishings arranged by family members very much the way it appeared when Thomas Wolfe lived there. Memories, kept alive through Wolfe's writings, remain in each of the home's 29 rooms.

Thomas Wolfe was perhaps the most overtly autobiographical of the South's major novelists. His boyhood in the boardinghouse at 48 Spruce Street colored his work and influenced the rest of his life. His reminiscences were so frank and realistic that Look Homeward, Angel was banned from Asheville's public library for over seven years. Today Wolfe is celebrated as one of Asheville's most famous citizens, and his boyhood home has become a part of our nation's literary history.

Bibliography

 
1917 - Wolfe is Published for the First Time

"A Field in Flanders," (poem). The University of North Carolina Magazine, December 1917.

"To France," (poem). The University of North Carolina Magazine, December 1917.

 
1918

"The Challenge," (poem). The University of North Carolina Magazine, March 1918.

"A Cullenden of Virginia," (short story). The University of North Carolina Magazine, March 1918.

"To Rupert Brooke," (poem). The University of North Carolina Magazine, May 1918.

 
1919

The Crisis in Industry, (essay), Worth Prize Winner, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina. Pamphlet, 14 pp., 200 copies, 1919.

"The Drammer," (poem). The Magazine, April 1919.

"An Appreciation," (poem). The Magazine, May 1919.

"Deferred Payment," (short play). The Magazine, June 1919.

"The Creative Movement in Writing," (editorial). The Tar Heel, June 14, 1919.

"The Streets of Durham, or Dirty Work at the Cross Roads (A Tragedy in Three Muddy Acts By Tommy Wolfe)," (short play). Carolina Tar Baby, The University of North Carolina, October 25, 1919.

"Ye Who Have Been There Only Know," (essay) The Tar Heel, The University of North Carolina, December 13, 1919.

 
1920

"Russian Folk Song," (poem). The Magazine, May 1920.

"Concerning Honest Bob," (short play). The Magazine, May 1920.

 

1924

The Return of Buck Gavin, (short play). Carolina Folk-Plays, Henry Holt and Company, 1924.

 
1925

"London Tower," The Sunday Citizen, Asheville, N.C., July 19, 1925.

 
1929 - Wolfe's Most Famous Novel, Look Homeward, Angel is published.

"An Angel on the Porch," Scribner's Magazine, August 1929.

Look Homeward, Angel, (novel). Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929.

 
1931

"The Grass Roof," (review). New York Evening Post, April 4, 1931.

"A Poetic Odyssey of the Korea That Was Crushed," New York Evening Post, April 4, 1931.

 
1932

"A Portrait of Bascom Hawke," Scribner's Magazine, April 1932.

"The Web of Earth," Scribner's Magazine, July 1932.

 
1933

"The Train and the City," Scribner's Magazine, May 1933.

"Death the Proud Brother," Scribner's Magazine, June 1933.

 
1934

"No Door: A Story of Time and the Wanderer," Scribner's Magazine. July 1933.

"The Four Lost Men," Scribner's Magazine, February 1934.

"The Sun and the Rain," Scribner's Magazine, May, 1934.

"Boom Town," The American Mercury, May 1934.

"The House of the Far and Lost," Scribner's Magazine, August 1934.

"Dark in the Forest, Strange as Time," Scribner's Magazine, November 1934.

"The Names of the Nation," Modern Monthly, December 1934.

 
1935 - Wolfe's Second Novel, Of Time and the River, is published.

"For Professional Appearance," Modern Monthly, January 1935.

"One of the Girls in Our Party," Scribner's Magazine, January 1935.