writers & theater

Asheville and WNC’s neo-bohemian vibe is expressed vividly in the local and regional writers and theater scene.

Asheville has a rich literary heritage that has attracted many famous authors throughout the 20th century and into the present day. Among these notable writers are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Carl Sandburg. Significant in the literary and theater world is ennovation and avant garde creative works theat happened at Black Mountain College.

 

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WRITERS

Asheville has a strong literary heritage spanning the 20th century, and the city continues to attract contemporary authors today. Several well-known novelists, poets, essayists and storytellers have connections to Asheville, including through two local academic institutions:

Thomas Wolfe

Tom was an American writer best known for his autobiographical novels, especially his 1929 debut “Look Homeward, Angel.” He was born in 1900 in Asheville, North Carolina to a working-class family – his father was a stonecutter and his mother ran a boardinghouse.

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Zelda Fitzgerald

In 1935, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald escaped to the mountain sanctuary of Asheville’s Grove Park Inn seeking refuge from their tumultuous lives. The grand hotel nestled in the misty Blue Ridge became a haven for Zelda’s fragile psyche.

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The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site near Flat Rock, North Carolina, is where the acclaimed poet lived for 22 years and wrote more than a third of his work. The 264-acre farm contains the historic house and farm buildings, as well as walking trails and dairy goats..

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 Cecil Sharp

Writing of his time in Madison County, Sharp describes a secluded and isolated mountain region with few roads and limited access to the outside world. The inhabitants spoke an old-fashioned form of English, using many obsolete expressions and pronunciations.

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Black Mountain College Theater

Black Mountain College (BMC) had a vibrant tradition of performance dating back to its early years when Xanti Schawinsky, a Bauhaus theatre designer, was hired to lead the Stage Studies course.

Black Mountain College Poets

The Black Mountain poets were a loosely connected group of writers associated with Black Mountain College, an experimental arts institution in North Carolina. They shared innovative approaches to poetry, influenced by Charles Olson’s “Projective Verse” manifesto.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, the renowned author of “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender is the Night,” spent two summers at the luxurious Omni Grove Park Inn while his wife, Zelda, received psychiatric treatment nearby. Although he wrote a few short stories during his stay, his drinking and womanizing earned him a questionable reputation in the area.

Thomas Wolfe, an Asheville native, is best known for his novels “Look Homeward, Angel” and “You Can’t Go Home Again.” His mother, Julia Westall Wolfe, ran a boarding house called the Old Kentucky Home, which is now preserved as the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Despite initial backlash from Asheville residents who felt misrepresented in his debut novel, Wolfe eventually gained acceptance as a beloved local author.

Carl Sandburg, a renowned poet and Lincoln biographer, moved to Flat Rock near Hendersonville in 1945. He purchased a farm called Connemara, where he lived until his death in 1967. The property was ideal for both his writing and his wife Lilian’s prize-winning goats. During his time at Connemara, Sandburg created notable works such as “Remembrance Rock” and “Always the Young Strangers.” Visitors can now explore the National Historic Site, including the stone ledge where Sandburg often sat to write.

Poems & Poets From The Black Mountain School

 

The performing arts scene is equally impressive, with an abundance of options including theater troupes, the symphony, opera, Flat Rock Playhouse, and free outdoor Shakespeare performances during the summer.

Unto These Hills

Flat Rock Playhouse

Links to More Theater