The North Carolina Mountains Feature


Authors of the North Carolina Mountains

They may not be able to go home again, but many famous writers have made their homes in the North Carolina Mountains. The one most closely associated with the terrain is Thomas Wolfe (1900–38), author of Look Homeward, Angel, who was born and buried in Asheville. His contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald visited Asheville and environs frequently in the 1930s, staying for long periods at the Grove Park Inn and at other hotels in the area. Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, an author and artist in her own right, died in a 1948 fire at Highland Hospital, then a psychiatric facility in North Asheville.

William Sydney Porter, who under the pen name O. Henry, wrote "The Ransom of Red Chief," "The Gift of the Magi," and many other stories, married into an Asheville-area family and is buried in Asheville at Riverside Cemetery. Carl Sandburg, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet and biographer of Lincoln, spent the last 22 years of his life on a farm in Flat Rock. A younger generation of poets, including Jonathan Williams, Robert Creeley, Joel Oppenheimer, Robert Duncan, and Charles Olson, made names for themselves at Black Mountain College, an avant-garde hotbed for literature during the 1940s and early 1950s.

More recently, Jan Karon, Elizabeth Daniels Squire, and Sharyn McCrumb have set popular mystery series in the area. Novelist Charles Frazier, born in Asheville in 1950, made Cold Mountain, in the Shining Rock Wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest, the setting (and the title) for his best-selling Civil War drama. The mountain can be viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 412. The movie, however, was filmed in Romania. Enka-Candler native Wayne Caldwell writes eloquently of the people of the Cataloochee section of what is now the Great Smokies in 2007's Cataloochee and 2009's Requiem by Fire. In several books, Canton native and former North Carolina poet laureate Fred Chappell paints powerful images of his hometown and its odiferous paper mill. Novelist Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist) spent her early years in the small town of Celo, near Mt. Mitchell, and Marjorie Rawlings wrote her classic novel, The Yearling, in Banner Elk.

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