Wolfe, Thomas

Wolfe, Thomas (Clayton)

(1900–38) writer, playwright; born in Ashville, N.C. Son of a stonecutter, he studied at the University of North Carolina (B.A. 1920), and Harvard (M.A. 1922; graduate study 1923). He taught intermittently at New York University (1924–30), and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. He traveled in Europe several times, began his career writing plays, but turned to writing novels during his turbulent affair with an older woman who was married and a mother. His novels were fictionalized biographies, and his writing habits, influenced by excessive drinking, were haphazard and undisciplined. His early work, Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life (1929), benefited from extensive editing by Maxwell Perkins at Scribner's. That novel and Of Time and the River: A Legend of Man's Hunger in His Youth (1935), The Web and the Rock (1939), and You Can't Go Home Again (1940) (the latter two published posthumously after being heavily edited by Edward C. Aswell) continue to engage modern readers with their mythical portrait of Wolfe as a young writer. He died of tuberculosis of the brain.