Wicker, Tom

Alternative names
Birth 1926-06-18
Death 2011-11-25

Biographical notes:

Thomas Grey Wicker (1926- ), journalist and author, worked for the "Winston-Salem Journal"; the "Nashville Tennesseean"; and served as staff writer, chief of the Washington bureau, and associate editor for the "New York Times." He wrote numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including several presidential biographies.

From the description of Tom Wicker papers, 1917-1998 [manuscript]. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 48756913

Thomas Grey Wicker was born in Hamlet, N.C., on 18 June 1926 to Delancey David Wicker and Esta Cameron Wicker. He joined the Navy's V-12 program in 1944 and attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., graduating with an A.B. in journalism in 1948.

After working for a number of smaller newspapers in North Carolina, Wicker was hired as a copy editor by the Winston-Salem Journal in 1950. He eventually became the first Washington editor for the Journal . Wicker was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, 1957-1958, and then served as associate editor of the Nashville Tennesseean in 1960. That same year, he was hired by the New York Times as a staff writer. From 1964 to 1968, he was the chief of the Washington bureau of the Times . He served as associate editor of the Times from 1968 until his retirement in December 1991.

In 1971, Wicker was called upon by prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility at Attica, N.Y., to act as an observer during their standoff with prison officials and was present through the conclusion of the incident. He later described the event in A Time to Die (1975).

Other non-fiction works include Kennedy Without Tears (1964), JFK and LBJ (1966), On Press (1978), One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (1991), and Tragic Failure: Racial Integration in America (1991). In addition, he worked on a number of scripts and treatments for television, most prominently acting as a consultant for the movie Attica, which was based on A Time to Die .

Among Wicker's works of fiction are three novels published under the pseudonym Paul Connolly: Get Out of Town (1951), Tears Are For Angels (1952), and So Fair, So Evil (1955). Novels published under his own name include The Kingpin (1953), The Devil Must (1957), The Judgement (1961), Facing the Lions (1973), Unto This Hour (1984), and Easter Lilly (1997).

From the guide to the Tom Wicker Papers (#5012), 1917-1998, (Southern Historical Collection)


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Ark ID:


  • President--Biography
  • Prison riots
  • Prisons
  • Sailors--Correspondence
  • Journalists--History--20th century
  • Journalism--Study and teaching (Higher)--History--20th century
  • Families--History--20th century
  • Authors, American--20th century


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  • Hamlet (N.C.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--Attica (as recorded)
  • North Carolina (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)