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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication

Oct. 16, 2000 -- No. 542

Best-selling author Tom Wolfe to give media briefing, speech

Briefing: 10 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 17)

039 James E. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence

Graham Memorial Building, near Morehead Planetarium

Lecture: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 17)

Memorial Hall, Cameron Avenue

"Look Homeward, Wolfe" lecture; presentation, first annual Thomas Wolfe Prize, to Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe, author of more than a dozen titles in fiction and creative nonfiction and one of America's most critically and popularly acclaimed writers, will visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tuesday (Oct. 17).

Wolfe will win the first Thomas Wolfe Prize, for his contributions to literature, and give the first Thomas Wolfe Lecture, titled "Look Homeward, Wolfe." The free public talk will be part of UNC-CH's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Thomas Wolfe's birth.

Thomas Wolfe, considered Carolina's greatest literary graduate, wrote the landmark novel "Look Homeward, Angel." The new prize and lectureship honoring the 1920 Carolina alumnus are sponsored by the UNC-CH English department, its Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program and the international Thomas Wolfe Society. See the attached capsule biography for more on Tom Wolfe.

Reporters are invited to cover the lecture Tuesday night and pose their own questions to Tom Wolfe during a media briefing from 10 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Tuesday. Coverage tips follow:


Timing: The briefing will begin promptly at 10 a.m. and conclude by 10:40 a.m. at the latest. Carolina English department chairman Dr. William Andrews will introduce Wolfe.

Parking: A limited number of spaces will be available for media on a first-come, first-served basis from 9:45-11 a.m. in the Morehead Planetarium lot near East Franklin Street and the sundial.

Room location: As you face the Morehead Building, the Johnston Center will be to your right. Approach the south side of the center, toward campus. News Services representatives will guide you to Room 039, one floor down from ground level.

Format: Dr. William Andrews, chairman of the Carolina English department, will introduce Tom Wolfe. Wolfe will make a brief opening statement, then take questions.


Sound: Wolfe will use a microphone. Audio feeds are not planned.

Additional visuals: After the briefing, media may photograph Wolfe as he walks through scenic McCorkle Place to the New West Building, where he is scheduled to meet privately with creative writing students.


Free parking is available in most campus lots after 5 p.m. Seats will be reserved for media representatives in the orchestra pit in Memorial Hall. Please identify yourself to the ushers.

Audio feeds will be available. For assistance, ask for Michael Johnson or Butch Garrison well before the program begins at 7:30 p.m. Both will be available in Memorial early for those needing to set up. Knock on the building's east side door.

Flash photography and TV lights will be permitted only during the award presentation, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. Ben Jones of Hendersonville and Florida, a 1950 graduate of Carolina and a Thomas Wolfe Society member, will present the Thomas Wolfe Medallion; Dr. William Andrews, UNC-CH English professor and chair of the English department, will read the award citation.

The award presentation is expected to last 10 minutes and the speech, 40 to 45 minutes.

Downloadable photo

Photos of Wolfe working with creative writing students on Tuesday morning may be available Tuesday afternoon by Web and e-mail. For updates, call Dan Sears at 919-962-8592 or News Services at 919-962-8589 or 919-962-2091.

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News Services contacts: Print, L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589; broadcast, Karen Moon, 919-962-8595



For immediate use Oct. 16, 2000 -- No. 543

Biographical material on Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe, a witty speaker and snappy dresser known for his three-piece white suits and hats, made his name in the 1960s and 1970s as a newspaper reporter-turned-author and one of the creators of the New Journalism.

The technique employed creative writing to report on contemporary society in an entertaining and fictional manner rather than the spare, objective style that had dominated journalism before. With Hunter Thompson of Rolling Stone and a handful of others, including Jimmy Breslin, then of The New York Daily News, Wolfe legitimized inclusion of the writer's reactions to characters and events in non-fiction, giving readers a deeper, more human and readable experience of trends at the time.

Wolfe's landmark New Journalism titles began with his classics on the counterculture of the 1960s, "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" in 1965, "The Pump House Gang" and "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" in 1968 and "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers" in 1970. He followed with "The Painted Word" (1975), on the American art world, and more. "The Right Stuff" (1979) on the psychology of rocket pilots and astronauts in the early space program, became a movie and won Wolfe an American Book Award for non-fiction.

Wolfe transitioned to fiction with "The Bonfire of the Vanities" in 1987, which also became a movie. His second novel, "A Man in Full," was published in 1998. It topped The New York Times' best-seller list for 10 weeks and has sold almost 1.4 million copies in hard cover.

Wolfe is at work on another novel, about college life. This month he is due to publish "Hooking Up," a collection of fiction and non-fiction including his novella "Ambush at Fort Bragg."

Wolfe was born in 1930 in Richmond, Va. He earned a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University in 1951 and a doctorate in American studies from Yale University in 1957. As The Washington Post's Latin American correspondent in 1960, he won the Washington Newspaper Guild's foreign news prize for his coverage of Cuba. In 1962, he became a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and a staff writer for New York magazine.

Wolfe lives in New York City with his wife, Sheila, and their children, Alexandra and Tommy.

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English department contacts: Dr. Joseph Flora, 962-2503; George Hovis, 962-4283

News Services contact: Print, L.J. Toler, 962-8589