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This Day in NC History: Thomas Wolfe born in Asheville


On October 3, 1900, Thomas Wolfe, the famed writer from Asheville, was born. Wolfe attended public schools in Asheville for seven years while living in his mother’s boardinghouse with the rest of his family.

Growing up in Asheville formed the basis for his thinly-veiled autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel, which was published in 1929. Asheville residents easily recognized themselves in the text, and Wolfe received letters from irate readers who felt wrongly portrayed in the book. It was 1937 before he would return to his childhood home, having published many short stories and a second novel, Of Time and the River, in the meantime. Although he planned to spend the summer writing in a rented cabin, Wolfe worked little, being constantly disturbed by visitors and undergoing family strife. He began to ponder the many implications of the phrase “You can’t go home again,” the title of a novel that would be published in 1940, two years after his death.

His mother’s former boardinghouse known as the “Old Kentucky Home,” made famous as “Dixieland” in his first novel, is now a State Historic Site.

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