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Western North Carolina’s Contribution to Timeless American Literature

Carl Sandburg Lake at Connemara

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If you love American literature, you will enjoy visiting the homes of two famous American authors who lived in Western North Carolina: Carl Sandburg and Thomas Wolfe. Furthermore the Sandburg Home and Wolfe Memorial have both been designated as historic sites in North Carolina. At each place you’ll enjoy exhibits, activities and information about the authors.

America’s Voice

Carl Sandburg was considered a voice of the American people. Best known for his poetry, and in 1951, Carl Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Sandburg also Carl Sandburgwrote biographies and fiction and he was a talented musician. He wrote about ordinary daily life in everyday language. Some of his most famous works are Fog, Chicago Poems, and Abraham Lincoln: The War Years

At his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”[4]

The Carl Sandburg home also know as Connemara is located in Flat Rock, NC and is open to the public all year. Sitting on Connemara is 264 acres and has pastures, ponds, and small mountains. While visiting Connemara you can:

  • tour the house
  • tour the farm for dairy goats
  • hike over five miles of hiking trails
  • check out the bookstore
  • attend special events

One of the main attractions for the kids is the Sandburg goat barn. All the goats on display are direct descendants of the Sandburg’s goats and everyone is encourage to petThroughout the year the Carl Sandburg home also hosts special events, such as Junior Ranger Day, Memorial Day Folk Music Festival, Summer Stage performances of Rutabaga Stories, Fall Farm Festival, and Christmas at Connemara. Be sure to visit the Carl Sandburg Home Calendar for full list of upcoming events.

Asheville in Literature

Thomas Wolfe was a famous American novelist who was influenced by his childhood in Asheville, NC. Wolfe often included references to the place and people in his Thomas Wolfeworks. He is best known for his books Look Homeward, Angel; You Can’t Go Home Again; and Of Time and the RiverWolfe was known for using autobiographical fiction, in which he used his own life as subject matter for his fiction books.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site is a Queen Anne style boarding house named Old Kentucky Home. Wolfe’s mother owned and operated the boarding house. (The boarding house is known as “Dixieland” in Look Homeward, Angel.) Wolfe lived at Old Kentucky Home during his childhood and teenage years. There are many things for you to do:

  • a visitor’s’ center and museum with exhibits and an audiovisual program on Thomas Wolfe’s life.
  • house tours
  • heirloom gardens
  • display of art inspired by Wolfe’s works
  • outdoor exhibits
  • educational programs for students of all ages

For more information on these go to Wolfe Memorial

History buffs will enjoy the wealth of information and photos of Asheville’s growth from the time of Wolfe’s childhood to its early development into a prominent city. This is an interesting way to see the early city transform into modern times. Most recently Wolfe’s life’s story was featured in the movie, Genius, starring Jude Law. A must see for all Wolfe fans.

If you love American Literature or are just interested in learning more about Western North Carolina literary contribution, you will find interesting, family friendly things to do and explore at these historic sites. Who knows you might even be inspired by these beautiful mountains to read something new or do some writing of your own! 

* The Carl Sandburg’s home is located at 81 Carl Sandburg Lane, Flat Rock, NC. and
* The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is located at 52 N. Market St., Asheville, NC.

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