Thomas Wolfe (October 3, 1900-September 15, 1938) was an American novelist. He wrote only four novels in his brief lifetime, but they are long works. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodical, and impressive prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written during the time of the Great Depression, depicted the variety and diversity of American culture.
A native of Asheville, North Carolina, he studied at the University of North Carolina, was a member of the UNC Dialectic Society, acted with the Carolina Playmakers, and received his Masters in playwriting at Harvard University. Unable to sell any of his plays, Wolfe found his writing style was more suited to the page than to the stage. He took a temporary job teaching at New York University, but after a year took off to Europe to continue writing. On his return voyage in 1925 he met Aline Bernstein, a married woman 20 years his senior, with whom he began a turbulent affair. It was to her that he dedicated his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel. Soon after its publication he again fled to Europe, ending his affair.
In 1937, on a trip to the West, Wolfe was stricken with pneumonia. Complications arose, and it was eventually discovered he had tuberculosis of the brain. He was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but the attempt at a life-saving operation revealed the disease had overrun the entire right side of his brain. He died three days later, never regaining consciousness, and having only published two novels. The Web and the Rock and You Can't Go Home Again were published posthumously. Wolfe's influence extends to the writings of famous Beat writer Jack Kerouac, and he remains one of the most revered writers in modern American literature. In fact, after Wolfe's death, William Faulkner, generally considered the best writer of the Lost Generation-era, considered Wolfe to be their generation's best writer; Faulkner listed himself as second.