Remembering Tom Wolfe, Author of Bonfire of the Vanities

By May 16, 2018 May 13th, 2019 Authors, News

Born Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. on 2nd March 1930 in Richmond Virginia, Tom Wolfe showed his love for writing early, as editor of the school newspaper. After graduating in 1947, Wolfe turned down an offer for Princeton University and instead attented Washington and Lee University where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. During his time at university he majored in English, was sports editor of the university newspaper and helped to found a literary magazine, Shenandoah giving him plenty of opportunity to practice his writing and journalistic skills.

A keen baseball player too, Wolfe played semi-professionally while still at college and in 1952 earned a tryout with the New York Giants, he was cut after three days and abandoned baseball for good (possibly good news for us readers!) and took a doctorate instead.

Wolfe’s thesis was titled The League of American Writers: Communist Organizational Activity Among American Writers, 1929-1942 and in the course of his research interviews many writers of the day including Malcolm Cowley, Archibald MacLeish and James T. Farrell.

This led to Wolfe being offered many jobs in academia but he turned them all down to work as a reporter. In 1956 he become a reporter for the Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts but by 1959 was working for the Washington Post. While working for the Post he won an award from The Newspaper Guild for foreign reportig in Cuba in 1961 and a further Guild’s award for humour. It was during this time that he honed his fiction writing skills in feature pieces for the Post.

Eventually Wolfe would head to New York and it was here he would find his first literary success. After being commissioned to write a piece for Esquire on the custom car culture of South California he struggled, slipping into procrastination. The evening before the deadline the piece still wasn’t written and Wolfe typed a letter to his editor, Byron Dobell ignoring all journalistic conventions and explain what he wanted to say on the subject. Dobell removed the salutation ‘Dear Byron’ and published the piece. While the piece itself got a mixed reception, the notoriety it created led to Wolfe publishing his first book The Kandy Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of writings from his journalistic days. In the process he coined ‘New Journalism’.





The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and many other nonfiction works would follow through the 1960s and 1970s and continue right up to 2016. In 1987 Wolfe got his first success as a novelist with his best known work, The Bonfire of the Vanities, said to be inspired by Vanity Fair. Three more full length novels followed, more nonfiction works, and a raft of awards for his journalism throughout his career. Wolfe’s final work was a nonfiction book, The Kingdom of Speech, released in 2016.

Tom Wolfe was hospitalised in Manhattan with an infection, shortly afterwards, Tom’s agent confirmed that Tom Wolfe had died on Monday 14th May, aged 88.

Remembering Herman Wouk, 1915-2019

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Every year at this time, the entire For Reading Addicts team remarks at how old Herman Wouk is. But this year when checking birthdays we were faced with the sad news that Wouk passed away on May 17th, just before his 104 birthday.

Born in the Bronx to Russian Jewish descendants on 27th May 1915, Bronx grew up as part of a struggling family in poverty. After his childhood, Wouk earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 19 from Columbia University and went on to serve as the editor of the university’s humor magazine, The Columbia Jester and thereafter would become a radio dramatist.

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Author Judith Kerr dies, aged 95

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The author, Judith Kerr, best known for her children’s story The Tiger Who Came to Tea has died, aged 95 according to a statement from HarperCollins today. Kerr was considered to be one of Britain’s most successful children’s authors and was still producing stories and illustrations well into her 90s.

A skilled illustrator, and the ability to see the world from a children’s perspective made Judith Kerr one of the most talented children’s writers the world has ever seen. From the Tiger Who Came to Tea, to the Mog the Cat stories, Kerr had a way of talking to children and passing on important messages.

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The Life of Dorothy Hewett, Feminist Poet, Novelist and Playwright

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Dorothy Hewett (May 21st, 1923 – August 25th 2002) was an Australian poet, novelist and playwright known for her feminist writings. Considered one of Australia’s best-loved and respected writers, Hewett published many poetry collections, plays and novels, a lifetime’s work that earned her the accolade ‘The Order of Australia”.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Hewett was raised on a sheep and wheat farm. She was initially home educated before attending Perth College, aged 15. While the college was run by Anglican nuns, Hewett was an atheist and remained so her entire life.

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8 Armistead Maupin Quotes that are Straight from the City

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Armistead Maupin (13th May 1944) is an American writer best known for his Tales of the City, a series of novels set in San Francisco.

Maupin was born in Washington DC and graduated from Needham Broughton High School before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His first foray into writing was as a journalist for The Daily Tar Heel.

In 1974 he began what would become Tales of the City as a colum in the Pacific Sun newspaper, moving to the San Francisco Chronicle after the Sun’s San Francisco edition folded. Read More

8 Profound Quotes from Tana French

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Tana French (May 10th, 1973) is an American-Irish novelist and theatrical actor, best known for her crime fiction novels. Born in Vermont, French has lived in several countries including Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, due to her father’s job as an international economist. Today she resides in Dublin.

French loved both acting and writing from an early age and her debut novel, In the Woods, published in 2007 won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry awards for best first novel. Today we’re looking at the author through some of her quotes, and the books they appeared in.
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