Today marks the anniversary of Thomas Wolfe's birthday. He would have been 111 today, but he passed away at the young age of 37. During his brief life he authored many tales and received both widespread acclaim by the literary world and condemnation from Asheville locals who's personal lives were recorded in the book Look Homeward Angel.
Over two hundred characters were based on living people, mostly citizens of Asheville. This included the Wolfe family themselves. Their personal flaws, conflicts, and failures were presented clearly for the world to see. Wolfe knew instinctively that the book would arouse controversy, and he was right. Asheville was horrified, as was Wolfe's family, despite his early warning to them. Tom himself was so concerned over his hometown's reaction that he lived in self-imposed exile from Asheville for the next eight years.*
Starting tomorrow, October 4 the Thomas Wolfe Memorial will unveil its much anticipated, Julia Wolfe Clothing Exhibit. Early 20th century outfits worn by Julia Wolfe, mother of famous Asheville author, will be displayed in the rooms of the historic boardinghouse, Old Kentucky Home. The exhibit tells the story of Mrs. Wolfe’s dynamic 85 years of life; her struggles in a turbulent marriage, her quest for financial security and independence through her real estate investments, her shock followed by immense pride at the publication of her son’s first novel, Look Homeward, Angel. And throughout the exhibit, one will surely catch the fleeting glimpses of Mrs. Wolfe’s immortal character, Eliza Gant.
The exhibit can be seen through December 2011.