Thomas Wolfe (October 03, 1900 - September 15, 1938)
Born: 3rd October, 1900
Died: 15th September, 1938
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Novelist
Region: Asheville, North Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland
Notable works: "The Web and the Rock", "You Can't Go Home Again", "Look Homeward, Angel", "Of Time and the River", "The Story of a Novel"

Thomas Wolfe Facts


Thomas Wolfe, in full Thomas Clayton Wolfe, (born Oct. 3, 1900, Asheville, N.C., U.S.--died Sept. 15, 1938, Baltimore, Md.), American writer best known for his first book, Look Homeward, Angel (1929), and his other autobiographical novels.

His father, William Oliver Wolfe, the Oliver Gant of his novels, was a stonecutter, while his mother, Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe, the Eliza of the early novels, owned a successful boardinghouse in Asheville, N.C., where Wolfe grew up. He was educated privately and in 1916 entered the University of North Carolina, where he wrote and acted in several one-act plays. In 1920 he enrolled in George Pierce Baker's 47 Workshop at Harvard University, intending to become a playwright. Several of his plays were produced at Harvard, including Welcome to Our City (1923), in which the town of Altamont (Asheville) first appeared.

In 1923 Wolfe left Harvard for New York City, where he resided for the rest of his life. Still intending to be a playwright, he taught at Washington Square College of New York University. In 1926, while abroad, he began work on what eventually became Look Homeward, Angel, in which he recounted the growth of an autobiographical protagonist, Eugene Gant, in the mountain town of Altamont. The book was a success, though its publication caused a great furor in Asheville.

During the late 1920s Wolfe entered into a relationship with the theatrical designer Aline Bernstein, who appeared as Esther Jack in his last two novels and who wrote of their friendship in the novel The Journey Down (1938). After the publication of Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe quit teaching to write full-time. His second novel, Of Time and the River (1935), takes up the story of Eugene Gant from his leaving home to attend Harvard until his meeting with Esther Jack. Wolfe's memoir of his life in the 1930s, The Story of a Novel (1936), describes his close working relationship with the editor Maxwell Perkins (q.v.), who helped him reduce the enormous manuscripts of his first two works down to manageable novelistic proportions.

Wolfe did not publish another novel during his lifetime, though at his death he left a prodigious quantity of manuscript, from which the editor Edward Aswell extracted two more novels, The Web and the Rock (1939) and You Can't Go Home Again (1940). These books depict the struggles of a young writer to become established in New York City and his first experiences with literary fame. A collection of Wolfe's shorter pieces and chapters of an uncompleted novel, The Hills Beyond (1941), and his Letters to His Mother (1943) were also published, as well as his Selected Letters (1956).

Wolfe was gifted with the faculty of almost total recall, and his fiction is characterized by an intense consciousness of scene and place, together with what is often an extraordinary lyric power. In Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River, Wolfe was able to imbue his life story and the figures of his parents with a lofty romantic quality that has epic and mythopoeic overtones. Powerful emotional evocation and literal reporting are combined in his fiction, and he often alternates between dramatically effective episodes of recollection and highly charged passages of rhetoric. Though The Web and the Rock and You Can't Go Home Again contain episodes of great vividness, they are too often uncontrolled in their form and fail to sustain the epic tone of Look Homeward, Angel, which has become an American classic.

Top 16 Thomas Wolfe quotes

Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America - that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement.
If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.
Few men
In Sleep we lie all naked and alone, in Sleep we are united at the heart of night and darkness, and we are strange and beautiful asleep; for we are dying the darkness and we know no death.
The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.
One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.
New york
Not even the most powerful organs of the press, including Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times, can discover a new artist or certify his work and make it stick. They can only bring you the scores.
Most powerful
New artist
New york
New york times
Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.
Death the last voyage, the longest, and the best.
America - it is a fabulous country, the only fabulous country; it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time.
Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.
All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.
All things
Most of the time we think we're sick, it's all in the mind.
A young man is so strong, so mad, so certain, and so lost. He has everything and he is able to use nothing.
Young man
Loneliness is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.
Every man
You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.
Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good.

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