The agent, Lynn Nesbit, said that he had been hospitalised because of an infection.
Wolfe then enrolled in Washington and Lee University.
He was known as a pioneer of a literary style in nonfiction that became known as New Journalism.
Wolfe applied this approach in classic works like The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test where he observed Ken Kesey and his LSD-imbibing Merry Pranksters in the early days of the psychedelic era, and The Right Stuff, a chronicle of the early days of the US space program. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962. It was a long-form of writing in which writers deeply immersed themselves in the subject they were writing about. He also helped found a literary magazine.
Wolfe's book The New Journalism, published in 1973, was a collection of work by the likes of Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer.
The Right Stuff, about the first American astronauts, was adapted into a film in 1983 with Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris.
The editor of the New York Times Book Review described Wolfe's death as the "passing of an era".
Born in Virginia in 1931, Wolfe went straight into reportage out of university, beginning at the Springfield Union in MA.