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Tom Wolfe's Biography

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Who was Tom Wolfe?

A major figure in New Journalism Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, better known as Tom Wolfe was born on 2 March 1931 in Richmond, Virginia.

Tom Wolfe seems to have had a leaning to write about powerful figures from an early age. At nine, Wolfe started to write a biography of Napoleon and a life of Mozart in the style of a comic strip.

Tom Wolfe graduated from Washington and Lee University and, in 1957, gained a PhD from Yale University.

In 1962 he became a reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune. Whilst there Wolfe published his first book, a collection of articles entitled The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.

In 1968 he published another collection of articles The Pump House Gang; and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Other books followed and Tom Wolfe became known as America's satiriser-in-chief, but he says of his own motives for writing:

"If most writers are honest with themselves, this is the difference they want to make: before they were not noticed, now they are."

Although noticed, Wolfe was not always praised - critics included John Updike, Norman Mailer and John Irving.

His first novel was the classic, 'The Bonfire of the Vanities', which was published in 1987. Like 'Bonfire' his other novels are considerable tomes. 'A Man In Full' runs to 750 pages. Wolfe apparently took around a decade to complete it. Whilst his novel 'I am Charlotte Simmons' was 680 pages.

Tom Wolfe died on 15 may 2018, aged 88.

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