Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 377
Charles Frazier was born on November 4, 1950, in Asheville, North Carolina, to Charles, a high-school principal, and Betty, a librarian and school administrator. He grew up in small neighboring towns and graduated from Franklin High School in 1969 with a vague aspiration to teach literature. He did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where his favorite authors were Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, and Edgar Allan Poe. After earning a B.A. there in 1973, Frazier completed an M.A. program at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, graduating the following year.
Frasier tried his hand at writing fiction but was disappointed with the results and so turned his attention to teaching and academic writing. While he was pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he specialized in twentieth-century American literature, he completed his first book, Developing Communications Skills for the Accounting Profession (1980), a practical business manual.
After earning his Ph.D., Frazier accepted a teaching position at the University of Colorado. His next book, based on his travels to South America, Adventuring in the Andes: The Sierra Club Travel Guide to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, the Amazon Basin, and the Galapagos Islands, was published in 1985.
In 1986, Frazier and his wife moved back to North Carolina when he accepted a teaching position at North Carolina State University. A year later his first fictional work, a short story titled “Licit Pursuits,” was published in the Kansas Quarterly. The North Carolina landscape is an important element in this story, as it was to be in his first novel, Cold Mountain. This novel sprang from his extensive research of the culture and history of his home state, including studies of its folklore, music, travel guides, and historical diaries.
His father’s story of his great-great-uncle, W. P. Inman, a Confederate soldier who had deserted during the war and walked back to his home at Cold Mountain, became the inspiration for Frazier’s fictional treatment of the area and its history. Encouraged by his wife, Frazier quit his teaching position to devote himself to writing his novel, which took seven years to complete. Cold Mountain appeared in 1997.
As of 2006, Frazier lived on a horse farm in North Carolina, where he continued to write.
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