Pop-up exhibition of Thomas Wolfe books set for May in downtown Asheville

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

A pop-up exhibition of books and items by and about Asheville native son and famous author Thomas Wolfe is set for May. The books come from the private collection of J. Todd Bailey, a Burnsville attorney. The exhibition will be on view inside the Haywood Park Hotel atrium, 46 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville. Regular hours will be 2-5 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays, with additional times by appointment.

“Bailey’s avocational interest in Wolfe stems from hearing about Wolfe’s visit to Yancey County before his return to Asheville in 1937 and subsequently being subpoenaed to testify at a murder trial in Burnsville,” according to a press release. “That interest led to assembling a collection of 771 catalogued items over a 25-year period during which Bailey wrote a master’s thesis on Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald at UNC Asheville.”

Bailey says the collection “is a combination of very rare books as well as a large number of other ones, right down to beat-up paperback editions. While my collection is noteworthy, aside from the unique items, most of the books can be found in libraries with special collections on Wolfe, where you could see them one at a time. … My intent has been to show as much as possible in one place and at one time to visually illustrate in his hometown how much has been written both by and about Wolfe.” More:

Asheville has long since forgiven Wolfe for his autobiographical tell-all first novel and his name is often invoked to aid tourism, but many locals don’t know much about him. I want to reach people who might enjoy taking part of their weekend to tour the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 N. Market St. and inspect my exhibition, maybe with lunch and a beer in the middle. And it would be great if that experience actually motivated more people to read Wolfe’s works.

Also in May, the Thomas Wolfe Society will hold its annual conference in Asheville. Here are details:

This year’s TWS conference, titled “Thomas Wolfe and the Creative Process” will officially begin Friday, May 20, 2016 with registration from 10:30 to 12:00/noon at the Windsor Ballroom Foyer, first floor of the Renaissance Asheville Hotel with a welcome from Mark Canada, TWS President and opening with a Prologue reading by Mary Aswell Doll. Sessions I and II will be held Friday with featured creative readings in the afternoon, followed by a reception at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Visitor Center, dinner on your own, and ending the day with a special session: documentary and discussion by Tom Rash and Steve Agnew.

Saturday, May 21 begins at 8:00 a.m. with Session III papers in the Windsor Ballroom, a brief TWS business meeting, Session IV papers and final words by TWS President Mark Canada, closing with an epilogue by Jan Hensley, lunch on your own, then the delightful “‘Something Stinking and Scavenging’: An Exhibition of Books and Items by and about Thomas Wolfe, Principally from the Collection of J. Todd Bailey.” Place and time TBA. A cash bar will be open from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the Top of the Plaza, 12th Floor followed by the TWS Banquet and Awards Ceremony with a keynote address given by Tommy Hays, Director, Great Smokies Writing Program, UNC: Asheville. …

Some of you who can arrive early or stay after the conference may want to see an exhibit documenting the Thomas Wolfe 75th Anniversary Celebration that will be on display in Special Collections at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, May 19-27. The display will feature documents and ephemera from the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Wolfe’s birthday, held in Asheville, October 2-5, 1975.

1975 events included discussions by a panel of Wolfe scholars including Louis D. Rubin, Jr. and C. Hugh Holman, as well as the staging of a play about Wolfe’s life entitled “37 Octobers.” The exhibit will be viewable in display cases outside of Special Collections in Ramsey Library on campus. Ramsey Library will not be open on Saturday or Sunday during our conference but Monday-Friday hours are 7:45am-6:00pm. If you have questions, please contact [email protected]

On Sunday, the restaurant Lex 18 will offer us a special show, Mystery Luncheon Immersive Experience: Clairvoyance, Thievery and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel. Those interested in this entertaining musical performance should reserve tickets directly with Lex 18 by going to Brown Paper Tickets at http://twsluncheon.bpt.me/ and use the password TW Society. Seating is limited, so make your reservations soon. Thanks to Deb Borland for suggesting this wonderful opportunity!

Then in June, a new Hollywood movie titled Genius will hit wide release. It will tell the tale of Wolfe’s relationship with his famous editor of the day, Max Perkins. A couple of summers ago, star Jude Law, who plays Wolfe, visited Asheville to learn more about the writer and his haunts.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

You Might also Like

1 Comment

  1. Barb April 26, 2016

    What date in May does pop-up exhibit start? Article neglects to mention that.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Stories