The Thomas Wolfe Prize and Lecture

About the Thomas Wolfe Prize and Lecture

Previous Thomas Wolfe Prize Recipients

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2017 Thomas Wolfe Prize Recipient

Kevin Young

Poet, Essayist, Editor

Author of Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015, Dear Darkness (2008)and Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, a forthcoming book of non-fiction.

Incoming Poetry Editor of The New Yorker

Director of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

“Poetry [is] the daily thing. The dirt. It is an everyday, not an occasionally." - Kevin Young


About the Thomas Wolfe Prize and Lecture

The Thomas Wolfe Prize and Lecture honor the memory of one of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's most famous alumni, Thomas Clayton Wolfe (Class of 1920). Established in 1999 with an endowed gift to the Department of English, the program recognizes contemporary writers with distinguished bodies of work. And in doing so, the program seeks to give University students and the surrounding community the opportunity to hear important writers of their time.

The Department of English bestows this prize each fall, around the time of Wolfe's October 3 birthday. In addition to receiving prize money and a medal, the honored writer comes to campus as the University's guest and delivers a lecture, which is free and open to the public. This event is a well-attended major campus and community occasion.

Thomas Wolfe is best known for his novel Look Homeward, Angel, which was published to rave reviews in 1929. Before his death in 1938, Wolfe also published Of Time and the River (1935). His novels The Web and the Rock (1939) and You Can't Go Home Again (1940) were published posthumously. Wolfe's writings reflect a largeness of spirit and an expansive vision of life, while anchored in geographic place.

From 2000 to 2012, the Lecture was generously sponsored by alumni Allen and Musette Morgan of Memphis, TN, along with the Department of English and Comparative Literature and The Thomas Wolfe Society. The Thomas Wolfe Prize comes from an established endowment fund.


Previous Recipients of The Thomas Wolfe Prize

2017 Kevin Young (The Grey Album, Blue Laws, Book of Hours, Dear Darkness)
2016 Jill McCorkle (Life After Life, Going Away Shoes, Ferris Beach, The Cheer Leader)


Clyde Edgerton (RaineyWalking Across EgyptFloatplane NotebooksLunch at the PiccadillyLast Night Train)
2014 Sandra Cisneros (My Wicked Wicked WaysLoose WomanWoman Hollering CreekCarameloHave You Seen Marie?)
2013 Ron Rash (Eureka MillOne Foot in EdenSerenaThe Cove)
2012 Josephine Humphreys (Dreams of SleepRich in Love, The Fireman’s FairNowhere Else on Earth)
2011 Al Young (Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry, Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006, Seduction By Light and more)
2010 Lee Smith (Oral HistoryFair and Tender LadiesThe Last GirlsMe and My Baby View the EclipseMr. Darcy Meets the Blue-Eyed Stranger and more)
2009 Roy Blount, Jr. (Alphabet JuiceCrackersRoy Blount's Book of Southern HumorFirst HubbyRobert E. Lee)
2008 Robert Morgan (Gap CreekThe Strange Attractor: New & Selected PoemsBoone: A Biography)
2007 Reynolds Price (A Generous ManThe Surface of EarthBlue CalhounThe Good Priest's SonA Whole New Life)
2006 George Garrett (Death of the FoxDo, Lord, Remember Me)
2005 Fred Chappell (MidquestI Am One of You Forever)
2004 Ellen Gilchrist (In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, Victory Over Japan, Ellen Gilchrist: Collected Stories)
2003 Pat Conroy (Prince of TidesThe Lords of DisciplineThe Great SantiniBeach Music)
2002 Elizabeth Spencer (The Voice at the BackdoorThe Light in the Piazza and Other StoriesThe Salt LineLandscapes of the Heart: A Memoir)
2001 Larry Brown (JoeFayDirty WorkFacing the Music: StoriesBig Bad Love: Stories)
2000 Tom Wolfe (The Right StuffBonfire of the VanitiesA Man in Full)