Brendan Wolfe in January 1974


Brendan Martin Wolfe was born on August 31, 1971, at Mercy Hospital (later Genesis West) in Davenport, Iowa. He is the son of Thomas A. Wolfe, a school teacher originally from Delmar, Iowa; and Frances S. Cupp Wolfe, of Moline, Illinois. Wolfe has two sisters: Bridget Colleen (b. 1967) and Sara Elizabeth (b. 1973).

Wolfe matriculated at the University of Iowa in August 1990, graduating with a BA in English in May 1994 and an MFA in nonfiction writing in December 1999. Wolfe began his professional career as a writer and editor while still in graduate school, working for Icon, a small independent weekly newspaper in Iowa City. He served as music editor, managing editor, and, from 1999 to 2000, editor. In Bangor, Maine, Wolfe worked as associate editor, then deputy editor of the statewide weekly newspaper Maine Times until 2002. In Concord, New Hampshire, Wolfe served as local editor and books editor of the Concord Monitor. In 2003 Wolfe moved to South Korea, where he taught English in the city of Daejeon.

On August 6, 2004, in Stockton Springs, Maine, he married Kate J. Grossman. The couple produced no children and divorced in 2007. On August 15, 2008, Wolfe married Mary Wharton "Molly" Minturn, a native of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa. They had one child, Beatrix Minturn Wolfe (b. 2009), and divorced in 2014.

In January 2008, Wolfe began work at Encyclopedia Virginia, an online project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He was associate editor (2008–2010), managing editor (2010–2017), and then editor. Wolfe has published two books: Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Musician (2017) and Mr. Jefferson's Telescope: A History of the University of Virginia in 100 Objects (2017), as well as essays in Colorado Review, Creative Nonfiction, VQR, and the Morning News.