The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt

The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt

The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt

The Correspondence of Thomas Wolfe and Homer Andrew Watt

Excerpt

Thomas wolfe was an instructor in English in the Washington Square College of Arts and Science -- then called simply Washington Square College -- of New York University from February 6, 1924, to February 6, 1930.

The chairman of the Department of English in Washington Square College at that time was Professor Homer Andrew Watt.

On January 10, 1924, Thomas Wolfe, then a graduate student in Professor George Pierce Baker's 47 Workshop at Harvard University, wrote to Professor Watt asking for "employment" as a teacher of English. January was still young, and Wolfe dated the letter 1923 instead of 1924. He said that he had had no experience as a teacher and some day he hoped to write successfully for the theater and do nothing but that; but he promised that if he were offered the chance to teach English he would give "the most faithful and efficient service" of which he was capable.

Dr. Watt liked Wolfe's letter and his references and offered him an instructorship in English for the spring and summer terms of 1924 beginning on February 6 at a salary of $1,800. He also told Wolfe that he thought he would like him. This proved to be true, and in the next six years Homer Watt went well beyond the call of his duty as a departmental chairman to make it possible for Thomas Wolfe to have a teaching position when he needed one and to avoid teaching when he needed the time more. It is of course now part of the literary history of the 1920's and 1930's that during the next few years the young instructor in English -- who really did . . .

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