Thomas Wolfe, born on Oct 3, 1900 in Asheville, North Carolina, was an enormously popular novelist during the middle of this century. His highly literary and sentimental style has not dated well, and he is not widely read today. But his intensely introspective novels were considered highly relevant by the generation that came of age in the middle decades of the century. It was Thomas Wolfe’s writing that inspired the young Jack Kerouac to become an author. Kerouac’s emulation of Wolfe’s style is especially obvious in Kerouac’s first novel, ‘The Town and the City.’
Wolfe attended the University of North Carolina and then Harvard, where he studied playwriting. His first plays, like his novels, were about the life and people he knew in North Carolina. In 1929 he wrote the famous novel ‘Look Homeward, Angel,’ in which Eugene Gant of Altamont stands in for Thomas Wolfe of Asheville. Wolfe continued Eugene Gant’s story in ‘Of Time And The River’ (1935), and invented a new alter ego, George Webber, for a later novel, ‘You Can’t Go Home Again,’ which was published posthumously after Wolfe contracted tuberculosis and died suddenly during surgery on Sept 15, 1938.