The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is calling on area students to participate in "Telling our Tales" creative writing competition. Students are asked to interview an elder from their community and then write a creative fiction story based on the interview. This is not a report. Rather, it as a chance for student to connect with, and be inspired by, an earlier generation, much like Thomas Wolfe did with his short story, "Chickamauga."
Please join us for this new and exciting student writing competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners for each of the three age categories. Below you will find all the information, guidelines and a submission form. For our educators, we have provided a three-day lesson plan to help your students develop good interview questions, practice their techniques, and help with their creative fiction story.
For more info, please contact Sarah Beth Lee at the Memorial (828) 253-8304.
Thomas Wolfe is best known for his heavily autobiographical novel, Look Homeward Angel and received many angry calls and letters from those who were convinced they were part of the story. Worried about the backlash, Wolfe stayed away from Asheville for almost eight years. On his return visit to Asheville in the spring of 1937, Wolfe stopped briefly in Burnsville, NC, where he met with his then ninety-five-year-old great uncle, John Baird Westall, at his home on the Toe River. During the course of their reunion John Westall began recounting for his nephew his days as a Confederate soldier and his participation in a great battle of the American Civil War; Chickamauga. Captivated by the aged veteran's story, Wolfe feverishly began jotting notes in his journal as the old man relived the horrific battle. Wolfe left the meeting having a renewed a relationship with his mountain kinship and excited about an idea for a story based on the interview.
Thomas Wolfe's short story "Chickamauga" was published in 1938. Wolfe wrote: "my idea was simply to tell the story of a great battle in the language of the common soldier-the kind of country mountain boy who did so much of the fighting in the war." Wolfe used John Westall, however, would never live to see the story in print. He died in November of 1937, at the age of ninety-six, just months after recounting the Battle of Chickamauga to his young nephew. Wolfe rightfully declared "Chickamauga" to be "one of the best stories I ever wrote."