Tom Wolfe

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.

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