As a history major I love all books that have to do with any history up until the 19th century, especially if its European! So I have found myself not only reading academic history literature, but I have soaked up the historical fiction novels as well.
Authors such as Sara Dunant, Alison Weir, Philipa Gregory, Elizabeth George Speare, I want them all! While I love the academic literature, some historical novels, mostly those that stick as close as possible to fact, lend a more personal view of the figures. Obviously the view will be biased based on the author, but it helps remember that these people who shaped history were human, real people with passions that mere academic research does not always lend a hand to. So while you may not actually expound on your historical/factual knowledge by reading them, it makes you remember that despite what the history books say, these people had their own problems interlaced with those of the era, and that history does not always tell these stories accurately. After all, history is written by the victors!
My favorite story related to historical fiction novels is from when I was taking a class in college, Tudor Stuart Britain. While reading my academic books for this class, I was reading The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. The book, in brief, was about the War of the Roses and the family and political dynamics, with a bit of a fairytale interlaced. Apparently the Queen was descended from the families in Burgundy, and that they were ‘magical’ (term used loosely). Now studying up late has its advantages, and disadvantages. While writing a short paper for my class, for some reason I began to get the book, and the class mixed up. Thankfully, before printing it out I went through and read it again, editing it before turning it in. Though I like to think my professor would have seen the humor in it all!
Any who, for those of you out there that like historical fiction novels, enjoy, but make sure not to get it mixed up with your class!
- Tell us about your favourite historical novels (guardian.co.uk)
- How to Get the History Right in your Historical Fiction: a Workshop for Authors (ihrprojects.wordpress.com)
- NCHE Session I – Using Historical Fiction to Create a Literacy Rich Room (historytech.wordpress.com)