Magnificent mountain scenery and warm Southern hospitality have long attracted artistic types to Asheville and the surrounding area. Some of the most famous literary figures of the past 100 years were either Asheville natives or lived here during their lifetimes.
Asheville’s most famous literary son, Thomas Wolfe, was born in 1900 at a 29-room boarding house his mother ran on Woodfin Street known as the Old Kentucky Home, which was immortalized in Wolfe’s celebrated autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe’s former home is now preserved as a historic site, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and is treasured as one of American literature’s most famous landmarks.
Born and raised in Asheville, writer John Ehle can trace his local roots back four generations. Ehle has written numerous award-winning nonfiction and fiction books about life in the North Carolina mountains, including The Winter People and The Journey of August King.
Asheville native Charles Frazier won the 1997 National Book Award for Fiction with his first historical novel, Cold Mountain. Based on family stories and local history related to the author by his great-great-grandfather, his book tells the story of a Confederate soldier who walks away from the horrors of the war to be reunited with his hometown sweetheart living in the North Carolina mountains.
Contemporary novelist Gail Godwin was born in Birmingham, Ala., but moved to Asheville as a young girl. One of her novels, Unfinished Desires, was inspired by her experiences at Asheville’s St. Genevieve Catholic School.