Famed American author, Tom Wolfe, died Monday in New York where he had been hospitalized with an infection. He was 88.
Wolfe was born and raised in Richmond. He was a 1947 graduate of St. Christopher’s School and graduated with honors from Washington and Lee University. A talented baseball player, in 1952 he tried out for the New York Giants but didn’t make the team. Following that episode, he attended Yale University and earned a graduate degree in American studies.
He worked for a series of newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune, before publishing his first book, “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” a collection of his articles, in 1965. He published his first bestseller, “The Right Stuff,” in 1979. The story of test pilot Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, and the other Project Mercury astronauts was turned into a blockbuster movie.
Known as the father of “New Journalism,” Wolfe wrote prolifically about the American experience and the people who lived it. Several of his later books, such as “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” and “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” addressed social issues and statusseeking with biting wit and satire. “My contention is that status is on everybody’s mind all of the time, whether they’re conscious of it or not,” Wolfe told the Associated Press in 2012.
Wolfe is survived by Sheila Wolfe, his wife of nearly 40 years; a son, Tommy Wolfe, and a daughter, Alexandra Wolfe.
Tom Wolfe speaking at Washington & Lee University in 2005.