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Education: Harvard University
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Throughout his literary career, Thomas Clayton Wolfe mined the early years of his life to extract every scrap of truth from his experiences, and to carve these truths into art. He seemed to take little pleasure in the finished work, but would feverishly turn to the next. During his brief but eventful life, Thomas Wolfe traveled the length and breadth of the United States, sailed to Europe on glamorous ships, conversed with literary giants and film stars, and loved a famous, successful woman.

His first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, recounted the life of a young man born in western North Carolina, the son of a stonecutter and a woman who ran a boardinghouse. He once said the reason he wrote a book was to forget it. But he never did forget that he was born on October 3, 1900—to Julia Elizabeth Westall Wolfe, the ambitious wife of a tombstone cutter, William Oliver Wolfe—and grew up in a boardinghouse run by his mother in the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina.

1900-1916 — Carving the Foundation of Life
By the time Tom was born his father had begun to realize that his own artistic ambitions would never be fulfilled. His mother was 40 years old and her dream was that her last child would achieve greatness. She had experienced the death of her first child—the infant Leslie—fifteen years earlier, and Tom took his place as the youngest of seven children: Effie, Frank, Mabel, Ben, Grover, Fred, and Tom.

The boy's life was one of constant travel and change. At the age of four he traveled to St. Louis where his mother had rented a house to accommodate visitors to the 1904 World's Fair. While there, Tom experienced his first loss of family when his brother, Grover, contracted typhoid and died. This event haunted Tom, and years later he would carve it into art.

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