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Thomas Wolfe


Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1900. His father was a stonecutter and his mother kept a boarding house, like Eugene’s parents in Look Homeward, Angel. At the age of four, he accompanied his mother to St. Louis, where she kept a boarding house during the World’s Fair. After attending public school, he attended a private school from the age of twelve, where the teacher had a considerable influence on him. In 1916, he started attending the University of North Carolina and enrolled in the playwriting course. A couple of his plays were performed in 1919. After graduating in 1920, he went to graduate school at Harvard, where he continued to study playwriting.

In 1923 he went to New York and started teaching English at Washington Square College. The following year he made the first of his seven trips to Europe. On the second one he met Aline Bernstein, wife of a stockbroker and eighteen years older than Wolfe. They had a stormy affair. After a subsequent European trip Scribner’s agreed to publish Look Homeward, Angel, after editing by Maxwell Perkins. The book had limited commercial success but considerable critical success. He wrote several short stories and novels at this time but Perkins wanted a sequel to Look Homeward, Angel. They worked jointly on what would become Of Time and the River but Wolfe was very unhappy with it and it did receive less critical acclaim.

Subsequently, he started to quarrel with Scribner’s on a variety of issues and finally moved over to Harper and Brothers in 1937. He continued to publish a variety of short work in various magazines. While on a trip out West in 1938, he became ill and died in Seattle shortly before his thirty-eighth birthday. His two subsequent novels were assembled by his editor from the manuscripts he had left behind. His critical reputation has gone down since his death as his writing is considered sprawling and disorganised.

Books about Thomas Wolfe

Neal F. Austin: A Biography of Thomas Wolfe
Brian F. Berger: Thomas Wolfe: The Final Journey
David Herbert Donald: Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe
Ted Mitchell: Thomas Wolfe: An Illustrated Biography
Ted Mitchell: Thomas Wolfe: A Writer’s Life
Elizabeth Nowell: Thomas Wolfe, A Biography
Robert Raynolds: Thomas Wolfe: Memoir of a Friendship
Andrew Turnbull: Thomas Wolfe

Other links

Thomas Wolfe
Thomas Wolfe (included detailed bibliography)
Thomas Wolfe at Harvard: Damned Soul in Widener
His Sister Knew Tom Wolfe Well
Thomas Wolfe’s”Old Catawba” in VQR
Thomas Wolfe’s ‘Angel’ of Death
Thomas Wolfe’s Final Journey
Resurrecting Thomas Wolfe
The Thomas Wolfe Society
Rest Thomas Wolfe (his grave)
Thomas Wolfe Memorial (his childhood home but lots about him)
Thomas Wolfe Memorial (the North Carolina website)
The Thomas Wolfe Review
The Lost Boy (story by Wolfe)
Only The Dead Know Brooklyn (story by Wolfe)


1919 The Crisis in Industry
1929 Look Homeward, Angel
1935 Of Time and the River
1935 From Death to Morning
1936 The Story of a Novel
1939 A Note on Experts: Dexter Vespasian Joyner
1939 The Web and the Rock
1940 You Can’t Go Home Again
1941 The Hills Beyond
1942 Gentlemen of the Press
1943 Thomas Wolfe’s Letters to His Mother
1948 Mannerhouse
1949 . . .”The Years of Wandering in Many Lands and Cities”
1951 A Western Journal
1954 The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt
1956 The Letters of Thomas Wolfe
1961 The Short Novels of Thomas Wolfe
1964 Thomas Wolfe’s Purdue Speech:”Writing and Living”
1970 The Mountains
1970 The Notebooks of Thomas Wolfe
1978 A Prologue to America
1980 London Tower
1980 The Proem to”O Lost,”
1982 The Streets of Durham
1983 K-19: Salvaged Pieces
1983 Welcome to Our City
1983 Beyond Love and Loyalty: The Letters of Thomas Wolfe and Elizabeth Nowell
1983 My Other Loneliness: Letters of Thomas Wolfe and Aline Bernstein
1984 The Train and the City
1985 Holding on for Heaven: The Cables and Postcards of Thomas Wolfe and Aline Bernstein
1986 The Hound of Darkness
1987 The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe
1989 The Starwick Episodes
1990 Thomas Wolfe’s Composition Books: The North State Fitting School 1912-1915
1991 The Autobiographical Outline for Look Homeward, Angel
1992 The Good Child’s River
1992 The Lost Boy
1992 Thomas Wolfe’s Notes on Macbeth
1995 The Party at Jack’s
1966 Antaeusor or A Memory of Earth
1998 Passage to England: A Selection
2000 O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life
2000 To Loot My Life Clean: The Thomas Wolfe-Maxwell Perkins Correspondence