March 8

This Day in History

Literary

Mar 8, 1935:

Thomas Wolfe's second novel, Of Time and the River, is published

Scribner's publishes Thomas Wolfe's second novel, Of Time and the River. Wolfe started the novel, a sequel to his highly acclaimed debut novel, Look Homeward, Angel, in 1931, but it took him and his editor, Maxwell Perkins, years to edit the work.

Wolfe was 6'5'' and couldn't sit comfortably at normal desks. He did most of his writing standing up, using the top of his refrigerator as a writing surface.

Look Homeward, Angel, perhaps best remembered for its famous line "You can't go home again," was published in 1929 and brought Wolfe immediate acclaim as the "Great American Novelist." The semi-autobiographical book details the youth of young Eugene Gant in a North Carolina town modeled on Wolfe's own hometown of Asheville. The book was immensely popular but won Wolfe the anger of his family and friends back in Asheville for telling town secrets.

Wolfe was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1900, one of eight children of a stonecutter. His mother bought a boarding house when Wolfe was five. The boy felt displaced by the constant parade of traveling salesmen, impoverished widows, and other boarders and later turned them into characters in his fiction. He entered the University of North Carolina in 1916 and finally went to Harvard College to study drama in the hopes of becoming a playwright.

In 1923, he moved to New York and taught at NYU while writing plays. By 1929, he had devoted most of his efforts to his monumental first novel, which made him into one of the best-known writers of his time. The novel was later adapted for the stage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1958.

Wolfe died of tuberculosis in 1938 at the age of 38. His final two novels, The Web and the Rock and You Can't Go Home Again were published posthumously.

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