Sometimes the thing you’re really searching for is right under your nose. This saying has been drilled into our heads for years by our parents and romantic comedies for years, but sometimes it’s actually true—like when I found my car keys under a pile of clothes in my living room, or when Oxford postdoctoral writing fellow Dr. Alice Kelly discovered a lost short story by Edith Wharton in the Yale rare books and manuscripts library. Both were major highlights of our respective days, but only one adds another chapter in the life of one of America’s greatest authors.
While researching everything Wharton for her upcoming book on the novelist, Kelly stumbled upon an unpublished work by the author. The Field of Honor, which you can read in full here, is a short story about the advancement of women during World War I. Kelly recently spoke about the “new” story, describing it as “a depiction of a common wartime fear: that women were profiting socially, professionally, even sexually from the wartime economy that privileged their lives over male lives.”
The Atlantic noted that from the markings on the discovered pages—”on the back of the fragmented pages is written a draft of another short story already known to be by the author, “The Refugees,” which Wharton wrote around mid to late 1918 and published in January 1919″—Wharton would have been working on The Field of Honor at around the same time she was writing her classic novel The Age of Innocence.
Read The Field of Honor now.