Weston ’04 Brings Tales from Front Lines of WWI to Life in 10 Stories

Emily Weston ’04 presented her Abbot Scholar project to a packed Freeman Room in the Oliver Wendell Homes Library on Wednesday evening. Weston researched World War I and wrote historical fiction based on this research. She decided on the topic of World War I because of her familial connections with England, where the war is much more historically significant than in the United States. She has written four stories so far, which she calls “the corner stones for the rest of the collection.” She expects her collection to consist of ten stories total. She will continue to work on them over summer. “The greatest challenge I had was writing the stories in a believable manner. I wanted to do most of the stories as fiction, but I knew I had to remain truthful to the actual historical aspect of these stories,” said Weston. To get the essential background on the topic Weston had to peel through mounds of secondary resources that she considered accurate, “but not accurate enough.” To complete her research she went to Washington D.C. where she visited the Library of Congress and the National Air and Space Museum. She also did some research at the Widener Library at Harvard. In the story she read to the audience during her presentation, Weston tells the story of a young man, Victor Chapman. The tale opens in London, at the beginning of August, 1914, only a few days after the outbreak of the First World War. Victor had been living in Paris since 1913, supposedly studying architecture, but really at a loss with what to do with his life. Much of this conflict has to do with Victor feeling overshadowed by his father. His father, John Jay (Jack) Chapman, was a pretty famous turn-of-the-century American intellectual, writer, and poet. Victor feels intimidated by his father. Throughout the story Victor broods over whether to enlist in the French Foreign Legion in order to fight in the war. He ultimately gets into an argument between with his father and stepmother Elizabeth. His parents do not want him to go to war. Though Victor seems desperate to fight in the war, when his father holds him up