From streets walked by Wolfe and Fitzgerald to architectural wonders including the world's largest personal residence to an ambitious history and culture trail, Asheville has been a source of respite, recreation and inspiration to literati for more than a century.
Writers with a connection to this area: Emoke B'Racz, Sallie Bissell, Tony Buttitta, Richard Chess, Jonathan Daniels, Olive Tilford Dargan, Jude Deveraux, Wilma Dykeman, John Ehle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Charles Frazier, Gail Godwin, Tommy Hays, O. Henry, David Brendan Hopes, Henry James, Horace Kephart, Sidney Lanier, Sharyn McCrumb, Michael McFee, Joan Medlicott, Robert Morgan, Arthur Newton Pack, John Parris, Peggy B. Parris, Carl Sandburg, James Seay, Janet Beeler Shaw, Nina Simone, Elizabeth Daniels Squire, Edith Wharton, Thomas Wolfe and Charlotte Young.
North Carolina Arts Council Literary Fellows: Glenis Redmond (poet, 2006); Laura Hope-Gil (nonfiction writer, 2008); Holly K. Inglesias (poet, 2010); Katherine K. Min (fiction writer, 2010).
Maxwell Perkins, Thomas Wolfe's celebrated editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, once wrote that a visit to Asheville was essential to understanding Thomas Wolfe's writing. Perkins was quite taken with the dramatic mountains surrounding this town and the challenge of arrival by train in the early 20th century. Today, Asheville — known as Altamont in Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel — is an easier destination. In the past two decades, the city has drawn artists, new immigrants and retirees like a magnet. There is tremendous diversity among its 77,000 residents and the city's vital arts and literary scene continues to bloom.
The 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail takes about two hours on foot and is a good way to get acquainted with the downtown area. Thirty stations tell the story of Asheville's history and culture through sculptures, plaques and monuments. Visitors following the urban trail gain perspective on the various influences that have shaped Asheville over the years. Pink granite icons are embedded in the sidewalks to indicate the era in the city's history that is represented through each piece of art — a feather for the Gilded Age; a horseshoe representing the frontier period; an angel for "The Times of Thomas Wolfe"; the courthouse for "An Era of Civic Pride"; and an eagle representing "The Age of Diversity."
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