Incoming first-year student Heather P. Wilson of Exeter, N.H., has been awarded a 2012 Thomas Wolfe Scholarship, a full four-year merit scholarship in creative writing, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The scholarship program was established in 2001 with a gift to UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences from alumnus Frank Borden Hanes Sr. of Winston-Salem. It honors Carolina alumnus Thomas Wolfe, best known for his 1929 novel, “Look Homeward, Angel.”
Wilson attends Phillips Exeter Academy. Although it is not her primary genre, Wilson said a screenwriting course at her school taught her “a lot about the importance of dialogue, and how to construct believable, meaningful exchanges between characters.”
She won first place in Exeter’s general category English prize for her personal essay, “These Simple Precepts.” She has been published in various school publications from the literary magazine to the newspaper. She enjoys writing humor pieces and short stories, playwriting and directing, gardening and cycling. She has lived in eight different states.
“I will write anything; I would write the blurb on the back of a cereal box if someone asked me to, and in all likelihood, I would enjoy doing it,” Wilson wrote in her application in response to the question, “What sort of writing do you most enjoy?”
In her essay, “Why I Write,” Wilson penned: “I write to give the past a present clarity, to make use of past grievances for present catharsis; I write to give order to experience without denying that very experience.”
Wilson lists Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Marilyn Robinson and T.S. Eliot among her favorite writers — and counts Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” as her all-time favorite novel.
“Heather Wilson thoroughly impressed our advisory board with her wit and wisdom both on and off the page,” said Marianne Gingher, Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of English and co-director of the scholarship program. “She is a gifted storyteller, but what sets her work apart is its stylistic deftness and charm. Keenly observant, she’s simply a writer you want to keep reading for the pleasure of her sentences. We couldn’t be more pleased to know that she’ll be honing her considerable talent at Carolina.”