Wolfe, Thomas (Literary Masters)
1900: Thomas Clayton Wolfe, the eighth child of William Oliver and Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe, is born on 3 October in Asheville, North Carolina. His father, a stonecutter, came from York Springs, Pennsylvania; his mother’s family, which originally settled in nearby Yancey County, had begun to move to Asheville to find work and establish businesses.
1904: Wolfe’s mother takes her children to St. Louis, Missouri, where she operates a boardinghouse for visitors to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (the World’s Fair). Grover Cleveland Wolfe, the twin of Benjamin Harrison “Ben” Wolfe, dies of typhoid while the family is in St. Louis.
1905: Wolfe begins his schooling at the Orange Street Public School in Asheville; he attends by special arrangement since he is still underage.
1906: Wolfe’s mother buys a boardinghouse at 48 Spruce Street in Asheville, moving there permanently in October, an act separating the family since the others remain at the Wolfe home on Woodfin Street.
1908: Wolfe goes to live with his mother in the boardinghouse, the Old Kentucky Home, where he sometimes shares his mother’s bed.
1908-1913: Wolfe travels with his mother to Daytona and Palm Beach, Florida; Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he attends school for a few weeks; New Orleans; and Washington, D.C.
1912-1916: Recognized for his ability in composition, Wolfe is recruited for a newly established preparatory academy, the North State Fitting School. It was founded by Margaret and John Munsey Roberts, who both teach at the school. Wolfe later calls Margaret Roberts “the mother of my spirit.” He takes first place in an essay contest on William Shakespeare’s plays and wins other honors.
1916: Bowing to his father’s wishes, Wolfe enters the University of North Carolina in. Chapel Hill. He would have preferred to attend either Princeton University or the University of Virginia.
1917: Wolfe has a summer romance with one of his mother’s boarders, Clara Paul. In Wolfe’s autobiographical first novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929), the character based on Clara is named Laura James.
1918: Wolfe becomes more active in campus life at the University of North Carolina after realizing that his father will not agree to his transfer to another university. He begins his association with a literary magazine, the student newspaper (later serving as editor), and the Carolina Playmakers, a student theatrical group. A thesis he completes for a class taught by Horace Williams wins the Worth Prize in Philosophy. Wolfe finds a summer job at Langley Field in Virginia. As a student in Frederick H. Koch’s folk-drama class, he writes and plays the lead role in The Return of Buck Gavin, which is published in 1924 in Carolina Folk-Plays, edited by Koch. Wolfe’s favorite sibling, Ben, dies in October.
1919: Wolfe is now a campus leader and is involved in many activities.
1920: Finishing his studies at the University of North Carolina, Wolfe spends the summer at home in Asheville, refuses the offer of a teaching post at a private preparatory school, and goes to Harvard University, where he is admitted to George Pierce Baker’s English 47 Workshop.
1921: Wolfe’s one-act play The Mountains is presented by the 47 Work-shop.
1922: Wolfe completes all the requirements for an M.A. in English and revises The Mountains, expanding it into a three-act drama.
1923: Still intent on sharpening his skills as a playwright, Wolfe enrolls for his third year of study with Baker and has enough success with the production of Welcome to Our City to have hopes for a New York production. He rejects advice to trim the play.
1924: Hopeful that living and working in New York will enable him to establish himself as a playwright, Wolfe accepts an appointment as an English instructor at the Washington Square College of New York University. With interruptions, he is to teach there until 1930. In October he makes the first of seven trips to Europe.
1925: On the return voyage, Wolfe meets Aline Bernstein, a successful stage designer who is married and nineteen years his senior. They begin an affair that endures until 1930.
1926: While touring England with Bernstein, Wolfe begins an autobio-graphical novel, first calling it “The Building of a Wall” and later “O Lost.”
1927: Wolfe embarks on his third trip to Europe, traveling with Bernstein to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, and Switzerland.
1928: After completing the manuscript of “O Lost,” Wolfe makes his fourth trip to Europe and is injured in a beer-hall brawl in Munich. In a letter dated 22 October, he receives word that Maxwell Perkins, an editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, wants to discuss his novel with him.
1929: Insisting on cuts, Perkins accepts Wolfe’s novel but requests a new title. The title Wolfe finally chooses is Look Homeward, Angel, taken from a line in John Milton’s elegiac poem “Lycidas” (1638). On Perkins’s recommendation, Wolfe revises the nineteenth chapter and publishes it as “An Angel on the Porch” in Scribner’s Magazine, the first sale of any of his writings. Look Homeward, Angel is published on 18 October and creates an uproar in Asheville and the rest of North Carolina. Elsewhere, it is generally praised as a promising first novel. Wolfe applies for a Guggenheim Fellowship.
1930: Wolfe is awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and returns to Europe for the fifth time. Sinclair Lewis praises Look Homeward, Angel in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in literature. In Paris, Wolfe meets F. Scott Fitzgerald. Wolfe attempts to outline a second novel. He breaks off his relationship with Bernstein.
1931: Wolfe meets Lewis in England. Their time together furnishes material for book 5 of Wolfe’s posthumously published novel You Can’t GoHome Again (1940), in which Lewis is given the name Lloyd McHarg. Wolfe settles in Brooklyn following his return from Europe and continues work on a second novel.
1932: Wolfe’s novellas “A Portrait of Bascom Hawke” and “The Web of Earth” are published in Scribner’s Magazine. “A Portrait of Bascom Hawke” ties for first place in a contest sponsored by the magazine. After announcing a new Wolfe novel, to be titled “K-19,” for fall publication, Perkins persuades Wolfe that the work is not a worthy successor to Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe continues to search for a way to complete a second novel. He visits his father’s Pennsylvania birth-place in October.
1933: Sensing Wolfe’s frustration over what materials should be developed for a second novel, Perkins suggests that Wolfe resume the story of Eugene Gant, the protagonist of Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe begins to draw old material together and to add fresh material. The short story “No Door” is published in Scribner’s Magazine. The working title for the continuation of Eugene’s story becomes “The October Fair.” Wolfe begins working with Perkins in December on a completed draft.
1934: Cutting, adding, editing, and revising the manuscript of the new novel carry over into the new year. Wolfe frets that the work, now to be called “Of Time and the River,” is not yet an artistic whole. Perkins hopes for publication in the fall, but Wolfe is not ready for the book to go to the printer. He attends the World’s Fair in Chicago.
1935: Instead of writing by hand, Wolfe tries dictating his material, a move that makes him more efficient. He departs for his sixth trip to Europe before the publication of Of Time and the River. Perkins sends word that the novel has received generally good reviews, news that cheers Wolfe greatly. In May and June, Wolfe spends six of the happiest weeks of his life in Germany, where he and his work are enthusiastically welcomed. He returns from Europe on 4 July and settles again in Manhattan. He accepts an invitation to participate at the University of Colorado Writers’ Conference. Continuing his westward journey, Wolfe goes on to California before returning to New York. A collection of his stories and sketches, From Death to Morning, is published on 14 November. Through the help and efforts of his agent, Elizabeth Nowell, Wolfe publishes fifteen short stories during the year. Seeking a way to create a work treating life in nighttime America, Wolfe first mentions his idea for a book that he later refers to as “The Hound of Darkness.”
1936: In April, Wolfe disagrees with Perkins about the percentage of royalties (10 percent) that Scribners wants to allow him on The Story of a Novel, an expansion of his speech at the writers’ conference in Boulder, Colorado. This disagreement marks the beginning of his split with Scribners. Reviewing The Story of a Novel for the 25 April issue of the Saturday Review of Literature, Bernard De Voto blasts Wolfe in a piece titled “Genius Is Not Enough.” Wolfe begins in July to draft letters to other publishing firms, indicating that he is on the lookout for a new publisher. He sails for Europe (his seventh trip) in July, intending to spend most of his time in Germany, where his work is selling well. He becomes aware of Adolf Hitler’s oppressive, inhu-mane, and tyrannical practices and, upon leaving Germany, writes “I Have a Thing to Tell You.” Alleging that Wolfe libeled them in “No Door,” one of the stories collected in From Death to Morning, the Dorman family of Brooklyn files a suit in November. As a party to the suit, Scribners recommends settling out of court, a move Wolfe stoutly opposes. This disagreement with the firm is a major factor in his decision to seek another publisher. Another factor in Wolfe’s decision to leave Scribners is Perkins’s vow to retire from the firm if Wolfe insists on using satiric material on a publishing house—material based, in part, on what Wolfe has heard from Perkins about staff members at Scribners.
1937: Wolfe celebrates New Year in New Orleans, where he is lionized. Here he meets William Wisdom, who later acquires Wolfe’s papers and manuscripts from the Wolfe estate and donates them to the Houghton Library at Harvard. Wolfe posts a letter to Perkins explaining his reasons for breaking with Scribners. Perkins responds in letters dated 13, 14, and 16 January. Wolfe visits friends in Chapel Hill. In February he informs his brother Fred that he intends to come to Asheville to seek a place where he can write in peace. Wolfe learns in March that something is wrong with his lungs, but he dismisses his illness. In April he leaves New York for Asheville, approaching it by way of Yancey County, where a kinsman relates Civil War experiences and Wolfe witnesses a shooting scrape. He spends a week in Asheville enjoying his role as a literary celebrity. Before returning to New York, he rents a remote cabin in nearby Oteen, to which he comes in July to begin writing. He manages to do some work but is interrupted frequently. Not having found the peace he desired, he returns to New York. Wolfe wrestles with his decision to find a new publisher, exploring in October the possibility of signing with Houghton Mifflin. Later, he accepts the offer of Harper and Brothers and begins discussing publishing plans with his new editor, Edward Aswell.
1938: In February a New Jersey judge decides in Wolfe’s favor in a case involving a dispute with Muredach Dooher, who was trying to sell some of Wolfe’s manuscripts. That same month, Bernstein’s fictionalized account of her affair with Wolfe is published as The Journey Down. Wolfe prepares a synopsis for Aswell detailing his plans for a novel presenting “one man’s discovery of life and the world” and explains that the central character will be simian-like in appearance. At this stage, he suggests calling the whole book “You Can’t Go Home Again.” He works steadily throughout the winter and into early spring on his new book, stopping in May to give a talk at Purdue University. Before leaving New York, he places materials for his new novel in Aswell’s hands. Following his speech at Purdue, Wolfe briefly visits friends in Denver and reaches Portland, Oregon, in June. There he meets Edward Miller, a journalist, and Ray Conway, an employee of the Oregon Automobile Association. Together the three men set out to show that the major western national parks can be toured in just two weeks. Wolfe’s journal of the trip is posthumously published in 1951 as A Western Journal: A Daily Log of the Great Parks Trip. He reaches Seattle on 2 July. He visits Victoria, British Columbia. Back in Seattle, Wolfe becomes gravely ill. He is transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; exploratory surgery reveals what the doctor calls “myriads of tubercles” in Wolfe’s brain. He dies on 15 September. His remains are interred in Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery.
About Thomas Wolfe
Born: 3 October 1900
Died: 15 September 1938
Education: University of North Carolina, Harvard University
The Pennsylvania background of his father, William Oliver “W. O.” Wolfe, and the Blue Ridge mountain heritage of his mother, Julia Elizabeth Westall, established the first polarity in the life of Thomas Clayton Wolfe and had both the practical and imaginative result that he never viewed life with Southern eyes alone. He was born in Asheville, North Carolina, the last of eight children, to an alcoholic stonecutter and a woman driven by a desire not to be financially outshone by her brothers or her husband.
The Asheville of Wolfe’s day had already ceased to be a sleepy county seat, largely because its cool summers and mild winters attracted visitors and venture capitalists, one of whom, E. W. Grove, poured the profits from his patent-medicine business into a resort for the rich, Grove Park Inn. Not far from downtown Asheville stood one of the grandest of all replicas of French chateaus, George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore. Less affluent outsiders also established homes in the area, bringing with them values and practices starkly different from the simpler, leaner lives of native mountaineers. On Asheville streets ox-drawn wagons mingled...
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Wolfe At Work
Wolfe’s years at the University of North Carolina afforded opportunities for publishing his first literary efforts, a few poems and plays and an essay titled “The Crisis in Industry,” for which he won the Worth Prize in philosophy at the university in 1919. He served on the staff of the college newspaper, The Tar Heel, eventually becoming editor in chief. One of his editorials, “Useful Advice to Candidates,” written during the North Carolina gubernatorial campaign of 1919, was widely reprinted in newspapers across the state. His play The Return of Buck Gavin was selected for publication in 1924 in the second series of Carolina Folk-Plays. None of his writing was published during his years at Harvard University. Wolfe’s next publication, a brief description of the Tower of London stemming from his first trip to England, appeared in his hometown newspaper, the Asheville Citizen, on 19 July 1925. Four years passed before anything else by Wolfe saw print. The short story launching his career in fiction was “An Angel on the Porch,” published in Scribner’s Magazine in August 1929. Plucked from the manuscript of the novel “O Lost,” which his agent,...
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- THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL MILIEU
- THE WOULD-BE PLAYWRIGHT, 1920-1926
- THE EUGENE GANT CYCLE, 1926-1935
- THE JOYNER-WEBBER CYCLE, 1936-1938
- WOLFE AND THE LOST GENERATION
Any effort to place Wolfe as a Southern writer without considering his Southern Appalachian heritage ultimately does him an injustice. Like William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Hamilton Basso, Julia Peterkin, Ellen Glasgow, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, DuBose Hey-ward, James Agee, Lillian Hellman, Carson McCullers, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Robert Penn Warren, Wolfe cannot be considered apart from his particular region of the South—in his case, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although differences swiftly mount when Southern writers are considered in relation to their specific roots, they do share some general cultural traits. Most of them were born into a culture advocating white supremacy, upholding Jim Crow laws, actively disfranchising African American voters, and refusing to provide equal educational opportunities for black citizens. The culture was divided about the direction Southern economics should take (whether to...
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- POSTHUMOUS PUBLICATIONS
- CRITICAL RECEPTION
- ART IMITATING LIFE
- THE PLACE OF WOLFE’S WORKS IN HISTORY
- ADAPTATIONS OF WOLFE’S WORKS
The Crisis in Industry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1919.
Wolfe’s first separately published work (in pamphlet form), this essay called for recognition of labor’s increasingly important role in building America’s industrial might following the close of World War I. It provides an early indication of Wolfe’s social consciousness and his allegiance to the working class. The essay won the University of North Carolina’s Worth Prize.
The Return of Buck Gavin: The Tragedy of a Mountain Outlaw. In Carolina Folk-Plays, Second Series, edited by Frederick H. Koch. New York: Holt, 1924.
Written, Wolfe said, “during a single afternoon”1 for a course under “Proff" (Frederick) Koch at the University of North Carolina, his first play dramatizes a sentimental story, inspired by a newspaper clipping, of an outlaw who risks his life to place flowers on the grave of a friend. Wolfe was eighteen when he wrote it. In its production in Chapel...
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Wolfe On Wolfe
To draw upon the language of the theater, reading Wolfe on Wolfe is like having an opportunity to visit backstage with the principal actor after he has played himself before the footlights for days, weeks, months, and years. The backstage Wolfe, in more muted tones, continues to play the role of a writer. He dreams of becoming famous, frets when things are not going well, admits to having faults, heaps curses upon readers who dislike his work, exults when a book does well, quarrels with friends and lovers, experiences writer’s block, wastes time and talent, and strives to do the kind of writing that will be admired and bought, that will last and make his name immortal.
The earliest such backstage confidence Wolfe shared was with his mother in a letter from Harvard: “I know this now: I am inevitable. I sincerely believe that the only thing that can stop me now is insanity, dis-ease or death. The plays I am going to write may not be suited to the tender bellies of old maids, sweet young girls, or Baptist ministers but they will be honest and courageous, and the rest doesn’t matter.”1 This grandiose declaration is typical of a young person’s eagerness to...
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Wolfe As Seen By Others
Sinclair Lewis, press conference on winning the Nobel Prize in literature, New York Times, 5 November 1930, p. 6; republished in Thomas Wolfe: The Critical Reception, edited by Paschal Reeves (New York: David Lewis, 1974), pp. 28-29.
The American writer to whom he paid the highest tribute was Thomas Wolfe, who has written only one novel, “Look Homeward, Angel.” If Mr. Wolfe keeps up the standard which he has set in this work, he “may have the chance to be the greatest American writer,” Mr. Lewis asserted.
“In fact, 1 don’t see why he should not be one of the greatest world writers. His first book is so deep and spacious that it deals with the whole of life.”
Robert Penn Warren, “A Note on the Hamlet of Thomas Wolfe,” American Review (May 1935): 191-208; republished in Thomas Wolfe: Three Decades of Criticism, edited by Leslie A. Field (New York: New York University Press, 1968), pp. 205-216.
. The root of Mr. Wolfe’s talent is his ability at portraiture. The figures of Eliza Gant and old Gant, of Ben and Helen, in Look Homeward, Angel, are permanent property of the reader’s imagination. … [It] may be well to recollect that Shakespeare merely wrote Hamlet; he was not Hamlet.
Bernard De Voto, “Genius Is Not Enough,”...
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Wolfe As Studied
- A COMING-OF-AGE STORY
- AN AMERICAN AS WRITER
- THE INTERNATIONAL THEME
- WOLFE AND OTHER AMERICAN WRITERS OF THE 1920S AND 1930S
Wolfe’s preparatory education in Asheville; his studies with such renowned teachers as James Holly Hansford, a specialist in the works of John Milton, and Edwin Greenlaw, an authority on Edmund Spenser, at the University of North Carolina; and his classes under John Livingston Lowes, George Pierce Baker, and Chester Greenough at Harvard University provided a broad foundation in English and American literature. Although Wolfe had taken a course on William Shakespeare’s works at the University of North Carolina, he also audited one of George Kittredge’s celebrated Shakespeare classes at Harvard. Wolfe’s voracious reading habits and his years of teaching literature at New York University widened his knowledge of American and English authors.
During Wolfe’s travels in Europe, he habitually sought out works by French and German writers. His pocket notebooks attest to the eagerness with which he sampled European writers and how frequently he saw the works of European dramatists. Although he was not so fluent in either French or German as to understand everything he saw on the stage, he...
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- Read Richard Walser’s Thomas Wolfe: Undergraduate (1977) and com-pare the college experience of Wolfe with the college experience of Eugene Gant as presented in Look Homeward, Angel and O Lost.
- Discuss the reaction to the publication of Look Homeward, Angeldescribed by Julia Westall Wolfe in Hayden Norwood’s biography, The Marble Man’s Wife: Thomas Wolfe’s Mother (1947), and by Wolfe’s sister Mabel in Thomas Wolfe and His Family (1961).
- Read James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and com-pare its principal figures with the principal figures in Look Homeward, Angel.
- Examine chapter 19 in Look Homeward, Angel and then compare it with the short story “An Angel on the Porch,” first published in the August 1929 issue of Scribner’s Magazine and reprinted in The Collected Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe.
- Dramatize part 4 of The Lost Boy. Videotape the performance and then invite the class to discuss what is lost or gained by having a narrator transformed into a principal actor.
- Discuss Wolfe’s handling of animal imagery in the short story “The Child by Tiger.”
- Explain how policies and practices in Nazi Germany are revealed in Wolfe’s “I Have a Thing to Tell You.”
- Comment on Wolfe’s ideas of work as...
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- BASIC REFERENCE WORKS
- RELATED BIOGRAPHICAL AND LITERARY STUDIES
- PICTORIAL WORKS
- INTERNET RESOURCES
Bassett, John E. Thomas Wolfe: An Annotated Critical Bibliography. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996. The standard reference for secondary materials.
Idol, John L., Jr. A Thomas Wolfe Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. Provides a biographical overview, chapters on themes, Wolfe’s ideas, Wolfe and his editors, and a glossary of characters and places.
Johnston, Carol. Thomas Wolfe: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987. The standard primary bibliography.
Mitchell, Ted, ed. Thomas Wolfe: A Documentary Volume. Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 229. Detroit: Gale / Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2001.
Phillipson, John S. Thomas Wolfe: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977. Lists and annotates 150 of the major commentaries on Wolfe’s work.
Reeves, Paschal, ed. Thomas Wolfe: The Critical Reception. New York: David Lewis, 1974. Lists and reprints important reviews of Wolfe’s work from 1929 through 1970.
Charles Scribner’s Sons archives, Princeton University Library. Includes Wolfe’s correspondence with members of the publishing house and business records.
The Thomas Wolfe Collection, Louis Pound Wilson Library, University of North Carolina. This collection has only a few primary works but is strong in Wolfe family letters, photo-graphs, audio recordings of family members, clippings, and Wolfe’s publications while he was a student at the University of North Carolina. The university library is the permanent home of the Aldo P. Magi Collection, the largest and best assemblage of secondary materials. It also houses the Braden-Hatchett Collection, which includes letters by members of the Wolfe family, photographs, clippings, and articles; the St. Mary’s College Collection, which includes memorabilia gathered by Asheville journalist George McCoy, Wolfe family history assembled by Edgar Wolf (the final e was added by Thomas Wolfe’s father), and the papers of Richard Walser, a leading Wolfe biographer and critic; and the John Skally Terry papers, which include letters, interviews, responses to queries, and notes for a biography Terry intended to write. These collections have sepa-rate identities but are considered units within the Thomas Wolfe Collection.
The Thomas Wolfe Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, North Carolina. The collection includes letters, family photographs, scholarly books and articles, clippings, and adaptations of Wolfe’s work.
The William B. Wisdom Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. The collection includes holograph and typescript copies of most of Wolfe’s writing, correspondence, pocket notebooks, books from Wolfe’s library, term papers, class notes, page proofs, and copies of contracts.
Gould, Elaine Westall, Look Behind You, Thomas Wolfe: Ghosts of a Common Tribal Heritage. Hicksville, N.Y.: Exposition Press, 1976. Treats Wolfe’s fictional portrayals of persons from his mother’s family.
Norwood, Hayden. The Marble Man’s Wife: Thomas Wolfe’s Mother. New York: Scribners, 1947. A record of the recollections of Julia Westall Wolfe.
Wheaton, Mabel Wolfe and LeGette Blythe. Thomas Wolfe and His Family. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 1961. Recollections by one of Wolfe’s sisters.
Wheaton. “Someone to Be Proud Of.” In Lou Harshaw, Asheville: Places of Discovery. Lakemont, Ga.: Copple House, 1980. Additional recollections of Wolfe by his sister Mabel.
MEMOIRS BY OTHERS WHO KNEW WOLFE
Hoagland, Clayton, and Kathleen Hoagland. Thomas Wolfe, Our Friend, 1933-1938, edited by Aldo P. Magi and Richard Walser. Athens, Ohio: Croissant, 1979.
H. G. Jones, ed. Thomas Wolfe of North Carolina: Papers and Reminiscences Delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the Thomas Wolfe Society, Chapel Hill, 10-11 April 1981. Chapel Hill: North Caroliniana Society/North Carolina Collection, 1982. Recollections of persons who knew Wolfe as a student at the University of North Carolina.
Pollock, Thomas Clark and Oscar Cargill, eds. Thomas Wolfe at Washington Square. New York: New York University Press, 1954. Includes memoirs by former students and colleagues at New York University.
Raynolds, Robert. Thomas Wolfe: Memoir of aFriendship. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965.
Magi, Aldo P. and Richard Walser, eds. Thomas Wolfe Interviewed, 1929-1938. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. A collection of twenty-six interviews.
Adams, Agatha Boyd. Thomas Wolfe: Carolina Student. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Library, 1950.
Austin, Neal F. A Biography of Thomas Wolfe. Austin, Tex.: Roger Beacham, 1965.
Boyd, Madeleine. Thomas Wolfe: The Discovery of a Genius, edited by Aldo P. Magi. N.p.: Thomas Wolfe Society, 1981.
Cooper, Richard. Thomas Wolfe: Voice of the Mountains. Raleigh, N.C.: Creative Productions, 1985.
Donald, David Herbert. Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987. Now the standard biography, the first based on full access to Wolfe’s papers.
Mitchell, Ted. Thomas Wolfe: A Writer’s Life, revised edition. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History / Boone: Appalachian Consortium, 1999.
Nowell, Elizabeth. Thomas Wolfe: A Biography. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 1960. The first full-length biography, by Wolfe’s literary agent.
Ryssel, Fritz Heinrich. Thomas Wolfe, translated by Helen Serba. New York: Ungar, 1972.
Scotchie, Joseph. Thomas Wolfe Revisited. Alexander, N.C.: Land of the Sky, 2001.
Turnbull, Andrew. Thomas Wolfe. New York: Scribners, 1967. Strong on Wolfe’s relations with Maxwell Perkins and Aline Bernstein.
Walser, Richard. Thomas Wolfe, Undergraduate. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1977. Provides excellent coverage of Wolfe’s professors.
Bruccoli, Matthew J., and Park Bucker, eds. To Loot My Life Clean: The Thomas Wolfe-Maxwell Perfeins Correspondence. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.
Cargill, Oscar, and Thomas Clark Pollock, eds. The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt. New York: New York University Press, 1954.
Holman, C. Hugh, and Sue Fields Ross, eds. The Letters of Thomas Wolfe to His Mother: Newly Edited from the Original Manuscripts. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.
Kennedy, Richard S., ed. Beyond Love and Loyalty: The Letters of Thomas Wolfe and Elizabeth Nowell. Together with “No More Rivers”: A Story by Thomas Wolfe. Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.
Nowell, Elizabeth, ed. The Letters of Thomas Wolfe. New York: Scribners, 1956. Revised as Selected Letters of Thomas Wolfe, edited by Nowell and Daniel George. London: Heinemann, 1958.
Stutman, Suzanne, ed. Holding on for Heaven: The Cables and Postcards of Thomas Wolfe and Aline Bernstein. N.p.: Thomas Wolfe Society, 1985.
Stutman, ed. My Other Loneliness: Letters of Thomas Wolfe and Aline Bernstein. Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.
Terry, John Skally, ed. Thomas Wolfe’s Letters to His Mother, Julia Elizabeth Wolfe. New York: Scribners, 1943.
Berg, A. Scott. Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius. New York: Dutton, 1978.
Berger, Brian F. Thomas Wolfe: The Final Journey. West Linn, Ore.: Willamette River Press, 1984.
Delaney, John, ed. The House of Scribner; 1905-1930. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Documentary Series, volume 16. Detroit: Gale / Bruccoli, Clark Layman, 1997.
Doll, Mary Aswell and Clara Stites, eds. In the Shadow of the Giant, Thomas Wolfe: Correspondence of Edward C. Aswell and Elizabeth Nowell, 1949-1958. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1988.
Evans, Elizabeth. Thomas Wolfe. New York: Ungar, 1984.
Field, Leslie. Thomas Wolfe and His Editors: Establishing a True Text for the Posthumous Publications. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.
Fisher, Vardis. Thomas Wolfe as I Knew Him, and Other Essays. Denver: Swallow Press, 1963.
Gurko, Leo. Thomas Wolfe: Beyond the Romantic Ego. New York: Crowell, 1975.
Holman, C. Hugh. The Loneliness at the Core: Studies in Thomas Wolfe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975.
Johnson, Pamela Hansford. Thomas Wolfe: A Critical Study. London: Heine-mann, 1947. Republished as Hungry Gulliver: An English Critical Appraisal of Thomas Wolfe. New York: Scribners, 1948. Republished as The Art of Thomas Wolfe. New York: Scribners, 1963.
Johnston, Carol Ingalls. Of Time and the Artist: Thomas Wolfe, His Novels, and the Critics. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1996.
Kennedy, Richard S. The Window of Memory: The Literary Career of Thomas Wolfe. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962. Widely recognized as the best study of Wolfe.
Klein, Carole. Aline. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Much attention is given to Wolfe in this biography of Aline Bernstein.
Kodaira, Takashi, and Hiroshi Tsunemoto. Studies in Thomas Wolfe: A Tribute from Japan to Thomas Wolfe’s Centennial. Tokyo: Kenseido, 2000. Essays on Wolfe and such contemporaries as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Sherwood Anderson.
Lanzinger, Klaus. Jason’s Voyage: The Search for the Old World in American Literature. New York: Peter Lang, 1989. Lanzinger explores the international theme in Wolfe’s writing.
McElderry, Bruce R. Thomas Wolfe. New York: Twayne, 1964. A concise discussion of the phases of Wolfe’s literary life.
Muller, Herbert J. Thomas Wolfe. Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1947. Muller argues that Wolfe transformed his personal experience into a public myth.
Perkins, Maxwell. “Always Yours, Max”: Maxwell Perkins Responds to Questions about Thomas Wolfe, Together with “Scribner’s and Tom Wolfe,” edited by Alice R. Cotten. N.p.: Thomas Wolfe Society, 1997.
Reeves, Paschal. Thomas Wolfe’s Albatross: Race and Nationality in America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968.
Rubin, Louis D., Jr. Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1955.
Snyder, William U. Thomas Wolfe: Ulysses and Narcissus. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1971.
Steele, Richard. Thomas Wolfe: A Study in Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1977.
Walser, Richard, ed. The Enigma of Thomas Wolfe: Biographical and Critical Selections. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953.
Walser. Thomas Wolfe: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961.
Watkins, Floyd C. Thomas Wolfe’s Characters: Portraits from Life. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.
Wisdom, William B. My Impressions of the Wolfe Family and of Maxwell Perkins, edited by Aldo P. Magi and David J. Wyatt. N.p.: Thomas Wolfe Society, 1993.
Wisdom. The Table Talk of Thomas Wolfe, edited by John S. Phillipson. N.p.: Thomas Wolfe Society, 1988.
Griffin, John Chandler. Memories of Thomas Wolfe: A Pictorial Companion to Look Homeward, Angel. Columbia, S.C.: Summerhouse Press, 1996.
Teicher, Morton I. Looking Homeward: A Thomas Wolfe Photo Album. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.
More than three dozen websites offer information on Wolfe, many of them with links to additional sites. The following are the most broad based.
The Thomas Wolfe Collection.
Provides information about Wolfe materials in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including letters and photographs in the collection.
The Thomas Wolfe Society. <http://www.thomaswolfe.org>. The official site of the Thomas Wolfe Society. Includes biographical sketch, photographs, announcements about events relating to Wolfe, news about Wolfe, frequently asked questions, and schedules of society meetings. Provides links to other sites.
The Thomas Wolfe Student Essay Prize. An essay contest, open to undergraduates and graduate students, sponsored by the Thomas Wolfe Society. A cash prize is offered.