Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science

Degree Discipline




Thomas Clayton Wolfe, the youngest of eight children, was born in Asheville, North Carolina, October 3, 1900.1 His father, William Oliver Wolfe, a stonecutter of Scotch-German ancestry, migrated to the South from Pennsylvania shortly after the Civil War. Wolfe's mother, a native North Carolinian, was W. 0 Wolfe's second wife, his first having died without issue.

Wolfe, when grown, was a giant six feet seven inches tall, with disproportionately small head and long arms. His appearance was a lifelong source of embarrassment to him, because of the inane witticisms it aroused and the difficulty he experienced in trying to keep himself decently clothed at the small cost he was able to afford.

Although he believed, and wrote frequently in his letters and in his books, that his childhood had been a miserable one, made so by persecution administered to him by other members of his family, he failed to cite instances to prove the truth of the charge. The whole family led a hectic existence, it is true. His mother, Julia Wolfe, was driven hard by her desire to amass wealth. She hoped to do so by employing her shrewd brains on real estate deals and on running boarding houses.

In 1904, she took the whole family to St. Louis and opened a boarding house there to make money off visitors to the fair. The death there of one of her twin sons, Grover Cleveland Wolfe, put an end to that venture and sent them back to North Carolina. There she began her real estate deals and opened another boarding house, leaving her husband and the other children to do for themselves in the home place, but taking Wolfe with her to the boarding house, where he slept with her in the one-room she reserved for her own use while renting out all the rest of the house, even renting basement rooms to Negroes.

Her real estate deals were generally fortunate, so much so that the men in the business said she had a better sense of values than did anyone else in the business. Wolfe himself said there was nothing she would not do to make money.

Committee Chair/Advisor

Edwyna Wheadon

Committee Member

W. R. Banks

Committee Member

J. M. Drew


Prairie View Agricultural And Mechanical College


© 2021 Prairie View A & M University

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Date of Digitization


Contributing Institution

John B Coleman Library

City of Publication

Prairie View





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