Pulpit Hill

Pulpit Hill is the name of a fictionalized version of Chapel Hill that appeared in Thomas Wolfe's 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe's heavily autobiographical first novel has his protagonist, Eugene Gant, attending the state university there. He describes the campus as a "charming" place where "a young man was able to loaf comfortably and delightfully through four luxurious and indolent years." The novel also includes fictional versions of several of Wolfe's professors, most notably philosophy professor Horace Williams. The university appeared in Wolfe's fiction again in his posthumous novel The Web and the Rock as Pine Rock College. Although he called it an "old, impoverished backwoods college," the references to the university were clear when he wrote about "its unfinished spareness, its old brick and its campus well." Despite these sometimes harsh descriptions, Wolfe (class of 1920) retained fond memories of his alma mater. In a letter to a classmate in 1929 he wrote, "So far from forgetting the blessed place, I think my picture of it grows clearer every year: it was as close to magic as I've ever been."