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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by E. T. Malone Jr., 2006

Title page of Sea-Gift by Edwin W. Fuller, 1873.Sea-Gift, an 1873 novel by Edwin Wiley Fuller (1848-76) of Louisburg, presented a lively and romantic picture of student life in Chapel Hill. Autobiographical in some respects, it describes the youth of one John Smith, his career at the University of North Carolina, and his participation in the Civil War. The book contains detailed descriptions of the hazing of freshmen and other aspects of student life and was the first novel set in part in Chapel Hill. It contains a tall tale-telling contest, including a definition of the tall tale presented over 30 years before Mark Twain's essay on the same subject. The plot incorporates the university's "Dromgoole myth," concerning a famous duel fought near Piney Prospect in Chapel Hill. The book came to be known as the "Freshman's Bible" in the late nineteenth century and probably had a bearing on the formation of the Order of the Gimghoul at the university and the construction there of Gimghoul Castle. Elements of the plot of Sea-Gift involving a long train ride to enter college also may have influenced Thomas Wolfe in the writing of his novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929), and a scene involving the burning of a plantation house is thought to have been a model for Margaret Mitchell in the writing of Gone with the Wind (1936).


E. T. Malone Jr., "The University of North Carolina in Edwin Fuller's 1873 novel, Sea-Gift" (M.A. thesis, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1975).

Additional Resources:

"Edwin Wiley Fuller." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed June 20, 2012).

"Edwin W. Fuller Sea-Gift Manuscript Fragment, 1873, 01027-z." The Southern Historical Collection. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Edwin_W.html.

Fuller, Edwin W. Notebook of Edwin Wiley Fuller; Containing Previously Unpublished Poems. Louisburg, N.C.: Louisburg Printing. 1979.

Image Credits:

Title page of Sea-Gift by Edwin W. Fuller, 1873. Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.