A native of Louisburg, Edwin Wiley Fuller is best remembered for his novel Sea-Gift, in which he depicted student life at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. His Chapel Hill years commenced in 1864 but were interrupted by his father’s illness, which required his return home. Fuller completed his education at the University of Virginia, earning a degree in 1868. At Chapel Hill and in Charlottesville he published poetry. Back in Louisburg, he took over his father’s store and pursued his literary interests as a sideline.
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Fuller’s first novel, Angel in the Cloud, appeared in 1871 and went through five editions by 1907. His novel Sea-Gift, which according to family tradition was written when he was eighteen, was published by E. J. Hale & Son in 1873. His works were widely read in his day. Sea-Gift is 348 pages long and takes its title from an incident described whereby a shipwreck off the North Carolina coast deposited the book’s heroine upon the beach. The “sea-gift” marries the other principal character, a former student at the University. Tales of romance and adventure ensue. The book in time was so popular among students at UNC that it was known at the “Freshman’s Bible.” In 1871 Fuller married Mary Elisabeth Malone and they had two daughters. He died at the age of twenty-eight.
Edwin Wiley Fuller,Angel in the Cloud (1871) and Sea-Gift (1873)
Edwin Wiley Fuller Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill:
E.T. Malone Jr., “The University of North Carolina in Edwin Fuller's 1873 Novel, Sea-Gift,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1976): 288-302
Robert L. Flowers, “Edwin W. Fuller,” Trinity Archive (March 1896): 332-343
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, VII, 107-110
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 248-249—sketch by E. T. Malone Jr.