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Historical Accuracy in Historical Fiction

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message 1: by David (last edited Dec 02, 2012 09:52AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Historical accuracy in HF is a topic that has been raised before, but I thought it might be useful to have a thread where we can discuss the various aspects of the research that goes into making an historical novel believable, characters, clothing, weapons, terrain, politics, morality -- the culture of the time.

Readers: What elements do you find most important, if executed well, to making an historical fiction believable? What kinds of errors or omissions throw you off and how much creative or dramatic license do you consider reasonable in an historical novel?

Authors: Share some of the research you've done in preparation to write about a particular time and place, in particular any interesting tidbits that you found fascinating. Did you find any particular historical books to be particularly useful?

Note to Authors: Feel free to mention your own books with a link, where relevant, and try to provide links to historical books or websites you discovered as part of your research process.


message 2: by David (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) As a reader and, to some degree, an historian, I think there is some amount of responsibility for HF writers to be as faithful as possible to historical events and the characterizations of historical personages, at least in terms of what is publicly known about them from the historical record.

As an author of HF, I think it is important to be faithful to history and where liberties are taken that contradict or challenge the historical record, especially regarding historical personages and timelines, there should be some mention of this in in an author's notes section of some kind.


message 3: by David (last edited Dec 02, 2012 10:28AM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) When writing a Shakespearean-style play in Elizabethan English, a story which eventually became my novel, Lucretia Lucretia by David Krae I found a really helpful book Shakespeare's Language: A Glossary of Unfamiliar Words in His Plays and Poems Shakespeare's Language A Glossary of Unfamiliar Words in His Plays and Poems by Eugene F. Shewmaker, which is also a great resource for understanding historical word usage, a resource book that can come in handy as a general reference in one's historical writing.


message 4: by Janet (new)

Janet Kellough | 20 comments I think if the details (dress, language, food, documented events etc.)are authentic, the reader will accept whatever you want to do with plot and characterization.One of the things that is fun about writing HF is the opportunity to cast figures in a new light or to suggest a different interpretation of an accepted version of history, but it needs the skeleton of real fact to support it.
I personally get obsessed with topography, because it changes over time as "civilization" encroaches on it.


message 5: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments What Janet said. Beyond that, as a historian who writes HF, I'm pretty much a fanatic about accuracy—by which I mean that I try never to write anything that can be proven to be inaccurate.

The study of history is much more fluid than most non-historians think it is, and the overarching scheme of things is often subject to multiple interpretations. So I have no problem with making up whatever I can't prove and putting whatever twist I need on received wisdom regarding historical figures. I just try always to keep the results plausible. People in my field know who I am and what I write, so I don't want them shaking their heads and saying, "She should have known better."

I do include historical notes at the end, if it seems appropriate, explaining my deviations from the historical record.

As for sources, it's hard to give recommendations because I'm writing about an area that I've researched professionally for almost 35 years. Also, the research I did (and do) for Legends of the Five Directions would probably interest only other steppe specialists. But I will note that there seems to be an increasing number of reference books directed specifically at writers, which is very useful. Examples include the Howdunit series (which protects mystery writers from having, say, to call up their local police department to discuss poisons!) and books like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England.

I also use novels, if I have reason to trust that the writer has done his/her homework, even in preference to scholarly works. That's because novelists have to imagine the sensory information I need, whereas scholarly works are often more focused on ideas than the nitty-gritty details required of good HF.


message 6: by Bryn (last edited Dec 02, 2012 12:31PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments C.P. wrote: "I also use novels, if I have reason to trust that the writer has done his/her homework, even in preference to scholarly works. That's because novelists have to imagine the sensory information I need, whereas scholarly works are often more focused on ideas than the nitty-gritty details..."

The other-than-history sources are vital, where and wherever you can get them. A poem from the times tells you more than a scholar now ever can on how people thought and behaved. Travel-writing's useful -- as old as you can, but new too, for those sights and smells. Found my most perfect description of how a ger smells in a newspaper travel piece, so perfect I was at pains to change the words and not plagiarize. Came up with this: "permanently impregnated with the homely smell of mutton fat, sweet and musty, a fusion of toffeed honey and old felt socks." --The smell and savour of their mutton quite quite different than that in our butcher's shops, I'm told. Makes sense.

I have this one on ordinary life, and that hard-to-get area of 'how people thought': Mongolia's Culture and Society. For religious life, and spilling over, I swear by this: Shamans And Elders: Experience, Knowledge And Power Among The Daur Mongols.


message 7: by C.P. (last edited Dec 02, 2012 01:58PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments Bryn wrote: "permanently impregnated with the homely smell of mutton fat, sweet and musty, a fusion of toffeed honey and old felt socks"

Ooh, I love that! Yes, I use travel writing too, because it's great for sensory descriptions—also poetry and literature.

One source I found that you may also like is The Soul Of Kazakhstan. I got a secondhand library copy for $5 on Amazon.com. Some of the most gorgeous pictures of the steppe I've ever seen, and it was written for Kazakhs who want to go back to being nomads, so it assumes they don't know how to construct a ger and worship their ancestors. Of course, you have to watch for anachronisms, but I suspect feather grass hasn't changed too much in seven centuries.

Also useful are the Osprey books on military history. I have a bunch of them (Russian army, Russian fortifications, Mongol warrior, etc.); they seem to exist for all times and places. They cost a lot for only 48 or so pages, and the accuracy varies, but the pictures are super. (Someone has pirated the pics, and you can find them all over the Web.) Step-by-step color instructions on how to build a fortified castle, for example.

In general, books written for kids are often good sources, because they assume no prior knowledge and they provide illustrations. I'm thinking of books like Castle.


message 8: by Bryn (last edited Dec 02, 2012 02:04PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments Like Janet and C.P., it's the little realities I want -- as authentic as possible -- to make a real background for your story. But historical figures: these become highly individualised in our hands. They have to, or we haven't written a story. I'll never never transgress against a known fact, about my figures -- however little. It's the little things that count. On the other hand I'll put up an argument against what scholars have to say, as with sources from the times that are gossip and no more to be trusted than our newspapers. In my time, and in any time I imagine, there's gossipy stuff that you have try and sort from factual information. -- At the end of this, my Genghis Khan is just so not what you expect.


message 9: by Bryn (last edited Dec 02, 2012 02:18PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments Oh, thanks for The Soul of Kazakhstan. Exactly the most most useful type of book. -- I like those picture books, forgot them.

Update. I just bought it, and cheap.


message 10: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
As a reader, I am devided. It really depends on what I want to read at the time. If I want a really hard core historical novel, then I will turn to Jeff Shaara or Nigel Tranter, but on a normal basis, I like more the historical or military adventure novels (or mysteries) that are more relaxed and more of an easy read. Like Simon Scarrow are kind of relax books for me, as most series books are. He definitely has a good grasp of the time period, culture, history and what have you, but the dialogue is more modern. A lot of people have called him out on that, but I personally don't see anything wrong with it. Some readers just don't want to wade through old language at the end of the day, especially not in a fast-paced adventure novel. I recently discovered Jeri Westerson's Crispen Guest mysteries which are the same. Fast -paced, sharp, but yet you can definitely tell that she has research the time period thoroughly because of the ease which she describes things. I'm typically not going to call someone out unless they are blatantly wrong or they portray a historical figure in a way I find insulting (i.e. Richthofen as a vampire or zombie. He was a national hero, show a little respect!)

As a writer, I try to keep as historically accurate as possible and if I deviate, I always put a note into the author's note. Sometimes, we just can't find the answers we're looking for, thus we must come up with something. I'll use my Wallace novels for an example. I had researched William Wallace for a while before I wrote my first novel about him (which is actually a discarded document right now) The medieval time period was easy for me because I have always been fascinated by that era and have studied it since I was a kid. My Scottish desk references are Scotland: The Story of a Nation I always use this, and then pretty much anything by David R. Ross who was an amazing Scottish historian.

In the research I do for my books, I'm pretty hands-on. If I can possibly try something out, I will do it. Obviously, this isn't always possible, but I have dressed up in a greatkilt and fought with a sword, and I've made a lot of the things my characters eat. I'm also kind of a historical fashion fanatic. I love period clothing. I don't like modern clothing, but I love period clothing, so I always try to make something from the period I'm writing about. For me it's all about getting into the feel of the characters and time period. And I love looking at pictures of the places I write too. Most of my books take place in Britain, and I've never been, but I definitely have lots of large picture books about Scotland and England and all.


message 11: by Janet (new)

Janet Kellough | 20 comments Some readers just don't want to wade through old language at the end of the day, especially not in a fast-paced adventure novel.

I agree - but it's a balancing act to find the right tone. I think maybe the key is to use expressions that are appropriate for the age, but make the rest of the dialogue more modern. ie. "I have a thrilling circumstance to report - old Uncle Bob's just been arrested for murder!" The use of contractions within dialogue seems to help. Thoughts on this?


message 12: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments I think you just summed up what I do.


message 13: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments I think old-fashioned language is like dialect: a little goes a long way. And just as with dialect, the trick is to convey the rhythm of speech and a few characteristic expressions, not to write "forsoothly," to quote E. Nesbit.

Modern slang is out, as is any phrase that does not have relevance to your given time and place (no hot potatoes in medieval Europe, e.g.—they are a New World vegetable). And the occasional Fie, or Sink me! is fine.

But if people want to read 18th-century prose, they can find it, right? If they are reading us, they presumably want something a bit more accessible.

In short, I agree. :)


message 14: by Bryn (last edited Dec 02, 2012 05:49PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments Real speech is what matters. I make up Mongol slang, that makes sense to us. I use what Mongol slang I have. But I'll use our slang and phrases, too: on the grounds it translates their slang and phrases. The whole is translation, and my 1st interest is to catch exactly what he said, in character. Or in short I have an old/new blend.


message 15: by C.P. (last edited Dec 02, 2012 05:52PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments I should mention that my comments are always only my personal guidelines—and even then I will violate them if it serves the story.

For example, chapter 2 of Golden Lynx includes a reference to nesting dolls. I assumed the dolls went back forever, only to have a reader comment that they did not appear until 1898 (who knew?). I considered taking it out and decided not to. Readers would know what the metaphor meant, and it was less clichéd than the alternative (stair steps).

In the end, it is fiction, not history. What works, works.


message 16: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments Me too. I do my own thing, which won't be right for other books; and I'll violate my usual practice, in service of the story.


message 17: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
I think also it depends on the kind of book you're writing. I used more traditional or at least not modern language writing "On a Foreign Field" because it was more of a serious book, whereas "Ballad of the Highwayman" might have a little bit of a modern flair on occasion, though, being set during the 1600s, I do have my 'devil take its' and all that good stuff. ;)


message 18: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments As suits the book. Smiley. As a reader, I certainly don't insist on one method or another.


message 19: by Steven (new)

Steven Malone | 225 comments I like what Hazel said about Scarrow and dialogue. I've read most of his and I like the way his characters 'dialogue'. I feel that when our ancestors talked to each other they talked to each other. They didn't dialect to each other - forsooth and what hey me lords 'n me ladies.

My yankee wife hears the 'southern' in my talk with my friends. I don't. I hear the 'Fargo' in the conversation of her family. She doesn't. We are all just talking.

Some dialect and timeline jargon for color - sometimes - don't... Well, tell me the story don't dab the story like it's a child's coloring book of staged and contrived pretend.


message 20: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Even in historical accounts, you can see a character, and often a wit in the writer's personality. Benjamin Franklin is a great example. A wonderful writer, obviously, but also very witty. As is the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys. he's actually one of the historical characters I feature in "Ballad of the Highwayman" because I fell in love with him reading excerpts from his diaries. I think it's very true that people spoke to each other much like we do today, even if it was in different dialects. Certainly they had their own slang and whatnot as well.

Another thing I was going to mention earlier, about the Crispen Guest novels (Veil of Lies) was that the dialogue is kind of written like a '30s mystery, the author actually calls the books "medieval noir" and it really reads like that, just with a medieval flair. They do talk like medieval people would, but not so much that the author doesn't let a few more modern things slip in. I thought it rather funny when someone called Crispen a "private sheriff" and he's known as "the Tracker" because they obviously didn't have P.I.s back in the medieval days.


message 21: by Janet (new)

Janet Kellough | 20 comments Hazel wrote: "Even in historical accounts, you can see a character, and often a wit in the writer's personality. Benjamin Franklin is a great example. A wonderful writer, obviously, but also very witty. As is th..."

One of the great things about writing historical mysteries is that any character can be the "detective". If you set the story in modern times, you're kind of stuck with a lot of forensics and police procedure, etc. and it becomes difficult to find a truly unique protagonist - which is why modern crimewriting is really getting all sort of samey. I write in 19th century Upper Canada, and my hero is an itinerant preacher - there was really no police force then, so his scope is enormous.

Sowing Poison: A Thaddeus Lewis Mystery


message 22: by Janet (new)

Janet Kellough | 20 comments C.P. wrote: "I should mention that my comments are always only my personal guidelines—and even then I will violate them if it serves the story.

For example, chapter 2 of Golden Lynx includes a reference to ne..."


Oh yeah - that's the downside of historical fiction. There are people out there who will pick up on the slightest anachronism and they love to let you know about it. I agree though - the story comes first.


message 23: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
@Janet: I never read contemporary crime fiction. It's not my thing. I really enjoy a lot of the shows on tv, but I'm not going to sit and read a book, for the same reasons. I just love the historical detective stories because I think it's more footwork and actual thinking instead of having computers do all the work. Of course I was first a fan of Sherlock Holmes and then later Poirot, though I still haven't read as much Agatha Christie as I would like to say.


message 24: by Gentian (new)

Gentian | 7 comments I'm going to jump in with a reader's perspective here.

I like books to be researched and realistic in their time period. I think Scarrow does this very well as does Cornwell without being too heavy handed about it. Oldenbourg and Duggan are probably the best I have ever read in this regard.

I dislike dialect use, I don't want to wade through any 'eh bah goom' but I also do not like characters to use modern slang.

My particular dislike is when authors read history backwards and attribute a modern mode of thinking or insight onto a character in the past. This is usually evident in the portrayal of religious matters and also on the role of women.


message 25: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
I agree with your opinion on religious matters and also stuff like Women's rights and all. I mean, some cultures were not as strict with their women as others, obviously, but I'm not a fan of feminist fiction myself, especially when it's obviously inaccurate. I like strong female characters who do not have a stupid attitude (pretty much, I love the women in Louis L'Amour's books.) But I'll always pick up a good military adventure with mostly an all man cast any day before I would read a book with inaccurate thinking women characters. It always seems like when HF books have inaccurate modes of thinking, it makes it feel like the author is just putting their own feelings into it to prove a point and I never like that. That's a big no from me in any book.


message 26: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (KAHohmann) | 12 comments As a newbie writer of historical fiction, I feel like I'm looking over my own shoulder for the clinkers (anachronisms) all the time. Because I wrote my book, Soldiers Rest, three times before finally letting it go and moved in backwards and forwards in time, I feel there are blunders that I still haven't recognized. HOWEVER, this is another issue that I struggle with: portrayal of women or minorities in accurate ways FOR THE TIME can end up reading as very offensive. I want to be accurate but not perpetuate ugly stereotypes. Sometimes it's hard! For example, I believe that Abraham Lincoln is sometimes portrayed as a fiery abolitionist, though in his day, he seemed as concerned about keeping the Union together as ending slavery, particularly at the beginning of the War. He was a deeply ambivalent man in many respects, but is often portrayed as a cartoon character....But I digress. Enough to say that I struggle to be accurate while readable, and when reading, I do like a speedier read than purely "realistic" or accurate writing might demand.

An illuminating thread! And a great diversion from ...WRITING!


message 27: by David (last edited Dec 11, 2012 05:58PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Kathryn, don't forget about the portrayal of women in terms of the 'location' of your story as well, as women's history as seen through the North American post-feminist eye can sometimes forget about the powerful women of history, especially in Europe where there were many Queens, Countesses, Empresses etc. who ruled just as powerfully as any man ever did. Conditions for women, minorities and those of mixed race were also different from colony to colony and city to city in the early days of North America.

I think remembering tho strong examples is equally important and can be empowering to women. Despite the historical subjugation/marginalization of women in North America*, there were many women who were formidable people, especially in the early days before the sexism became formalized through repressive and exclusionary lawmaking.

As for offensive things...if that's the way they were, then portray them as such. Whitewashing the way women or minorities, or anyone else for that matter, has been treated, in cases of oppression, violence or abuse, would be disservice to history. Likewise, if your research shows Abraham Lincoln to be less of a cartoon character than he has been portrayed, then please digress. Write an entire story about it. The subtleties of Lincoln's personality might make for an interesting story.

Of course...I understand this to mean Abraham Lincoln didn't fight vampires in his spare time...which is rather a disappointment.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith ;)


A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present
A History of Their Own Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present by Bonnie S. Anderson Bonnie S. Anderson is an interesting resource.


*and other parts of the world and at various times in history


message 28: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (KAHohmann) | 12 comments David wrote: "Kathryn, don't forget about the portrayal of women in terms of the 'location' of your story as well, as women's history as seen through the North American post-feminist eye can sometimes forget abo..."

Interesting thoughts! Thank you! I'm going to check out these resources, for sure! Best, Kathryn


message 29: by C.P. (last edited Dec 11, 2012 06:40PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments Hi, Kathryn, and welcome—
Producing strong but credible women characters is something most women writers struggle with (and many male writers too, no doubt). But there are lots of ways to approach the problem without turning a medieval lady into a proto-feminist, and some of them can be a lot of fun.

For example, in my first book I dumped a modern grad student into the body of an 18th-century lady and let her figure out how to adjust to life in corsets and petticoats. In my second, I made my heroine a descendant of Genghis Khan, just so she would have a reason to do something besides sit and embroider altar cloths. But as I began to figure out what the implications of that choice were, I uncovered a whole hidden world of female earth and water and ancestral spirits and ancient warrior heroines who guided my princess along a traditional but certainly not a passive path.

And even subjugated women don't necessarily lack power. They could manage castles, control harems, govern convents, keep the entire family in line, etc. Literature has lots of examples of such women, who may pay lip service to (or even deeply believe in) the idea of male superiority without letting it cramp their style in terms of dealing with children, servants, merchants, peddlers, or artisans.


message 30: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
C.P. In all truth, I have found for the most part that all my favorite female characters are usually created by men authors. To me, men seem to be able to write strong women better without them being overbearing, man-haters, or just having The Attitude.

I do sometimes have problems with my ladies, though not as much as I could have anyway. I hope that they come off as likable characters without having an attitude. I like to make my heroines as a partner to their men, so that the men can trust them not to go off and do something stupid so they don't have to worry about them while they have other things to worry about ;)


message 31: by C.P. (last edited Dec 11, 2012 07:43PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments Ah, well, you'll feel differently after you encounter Nasan. ;)

Also Bryn's Hoelun. But I actually do not find that to be true, even outside the steppe. I read many women writers who write strong female characters who are not overly modern in their approach.

See, for example, The Stockholm Octavo, which just came out. I absolutely loved it. Or any historical novel by Elizabeth Peters or Laurie R. King or Anne Perry. I could go on, and on, but I should probably put myself to sleep rather than you!


message 32: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
I have a feeling I'll really like your character ;) I of course did fail to mention classic authors as well in that, for I am a huge fan of Alcott and her ladies, but then she came from a different time period as well. I'm not saying I don't like any female characters written by women authors, obviously I love Rosemary Sutcliff, and her characters both men and women. I've found annoying female characters mostly to be attached to the young adult genre, which is why I mostly stick to male authors for YA besides a few exceptions. It's not that I won't take chances and try things to be proven wrong, just as a general view, that is what I have found out.


message 33: by David (last edited Dec 11, 2012 09:32PM) (new)

David Krae (DavidKrae) Hazel, if you want strongly-written female characters in a YA setting, watch some Japanese Animation or read manga or Japanese 'light novels'. The character development is excellent, entertaining and the interplay is fantastic -- and the diversity of characters is also extensive. Most of the female characters in that medium/genre are depicted as intelligent, strong, emotionally interesting and realistically flawed. Far better than the mindless nonsense with the endless sighing showing up in some female-driven YA material. I believe there are quite a number of female 'mangaka' and writers working in the field and I wouldn't be surprised to see young women writers in the English-speaking world evolving creatively out of the manga/anime tradition -- which, IMO, would be a good thing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumiko_T...


message 34: by Hazel (last edited Dec 11, 2012 10:20PM) (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Thanks for the tip, truthfully, magna is not my thing though, and I'm really not unhappy with the material I read ;) As I said before, I prefer books with male characters both in reading and writing. As a woman, I sometimes find I clash with too many lady characters in one place, haha ;) I know plenty of books with good female characters if I'm looking for them.


message 35: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (KAHohmann) | 12 comments C.P. wrote: "Hi, Kathryn, and welcome—
Producing strong but credible women characters is something most women writers struggle with (and many male writers too, no doubt). But there are lots of ways to approach ..."


A descendant of Khan....I think I'd like to meet her...what is your book title? K


message 36: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments I'll tell you for her. She won't mind. It's The Golden Lynx.


message 37: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (KAHohmann) | 12 comments Bryn wrote: "I'll tell you for her. She won't mind. It's The Golden Lynx."
why thank you!


message 38: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments No worries. I liked her book.


message 39: by Gentian (last edited Dec 12, 2012 12:17AM) (new)

Gentian | 7 comments C.P. wrote: "Hi, Kathryn, and welcome—
Producing strong but credible women characters is something most women writers struggle with (and many male writers too, no doubt). But there are lots of ways to approach ..."


I agree CP, there were many powerful and interesting women through history - Livia, Empress Matilda, Isabella of Castile are just a few that spring to mind. Even then though these women's power sprang from who THEY were and their particular situation and character. They would not have subscribed to a modern woman's view of the world or any of our notions of female equality. Even some of the most successful women in history achieved this in spite of their gender. Elizabeth I may have been one of our most successful monarchs but her mother went to her death because she failed to provide a male heir, her father saw Elizabeth and her half sister Mary as second best, a potential disaster for England and a dynastic disaster in terms of securing the throne.

That said for a lot of history women at many levels of society were equal to men, just not in the way we think of it today. They suffered in a similar way (indeed often more because their diet was poorer and they were often iron deficient because of excessive childbearing combined with menses and lack of meat),did similar work (they were either too poor or too wealthy to care for their own children)and when the men went to war women would often go with them to cook/care for them. Women would also have to run the farms/fields in the absence of the men. Politically and socially though there was no freedom whatsoever. Depending on their social status of course many men did not have this either.

It is a complex and rich tapestry which is why I really truly dislike it when women in HF are given modern attitudes and thought processes - they are interesting in their own right.


message 40: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
As a lover of Scottish and Irish history, I have found some wonderful female heroines such as Boudicca, Black Agnes Mary Macgregor (Rob Roy's wife) and then Flora MacDonald who helped Prince Charlie escape, and then in Ireland Constance (can never rememember how to spell her last name, so I'm not going to butcher it) who was part of the Conspiracy of Poets. Actually, Constance was a real inspiration in part for two of my leading ladies, Sylvia from Ballad of the Highwayman and Maggie from On a Foreign Field: A Story of Loyalty and Brotherhood


message 41: by Gentian (new)

Gentian | 7 comments Hazel wrote: "As a lover of Scottish and Irish history, I have found some wonderful female heroines such as Boudicca, Black Agnes Mary Macgregor (Rob Roy's wife) and then Flora MacDonald who helped Prince Charli..."

Hi Hazel - her last name is Markievicz. I agree that she was a fascinating woman. I would like to read a biography of her at some point so if you know of any good ones I would be grateful.


message 42: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
Thanks you ;) I don't know of any in particular, It's been a while since I was researching Irish history and that time period as well (I've been in Roman Britain for several months due to my latest book) I did read the novel 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion which though I wasn't personally happy with the story line that followed the author's own characters, the historical bits and the way she portrayed all the Poets were amazing.


message 43: by C.P. (last edited Dec 12, 2012 08:24AM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 339 comments Markievicz? Markiewicz, maybe? How interesting. It sounds Polish (pronounced Mar-KYE-vich). What was she doing in Ireland, I wonder?

Gentian makes a really good point about men also not having as much freedom before the 19th century or so. In fact, even aristocratic men often had their destinies decided by their families. In Muscovite Russia, for example, noblemen served in the army and the government, whether they liked it or not, and they went wherever the ruler ordered them. Even joining the Church was a big deal, because important churchmen were monks, and monks can't play marriage politics or produce legitimate heirs for the clan. And in general, men were expected to do whatever their fathers did. That was true all over Europe.

Bryn, thanks for supplying my title to Kathryn. Of course, I don't mind!


message 44: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
She was Irish, she married a Polish Duke or maybe count? As I said, it's been a long time.

And that is definitely true of course, especially for younger sons. In fact there are just as many tales about young men running off to war as there seem to be about women ;)


message 45: by Pauline (new)

Pauline Montagna (pauline_montagna) My pet hate is something no one here would even read which is so called 'Historical romance' or as I call it 'erotica in long skirts'. Here you get not only anachronistic attitudes to women , but also sex. The people who write this stuff forget that penicillin and the pill are modern inventions.

I found myself thrown into this maelstrom of misconceptions because my novel The Slave was categorised as 'Historical Romance' though it is as different from this rubbish as you can get. When I tried to 'get into the conversation' I came across the most unbelievable attitudes. 'What's wrong with a nobleman and a lady having a knee trembler in Hyde Park in the afternoon in 1815? People did have sex in those days.' In the end I had to withdraw out of sheer exasperation.

The whole issue sent me into one of my rants which ended up as six essays beginning with Whatever became of the Regency Romance? http://msmontagnasmiscellany.blogspot...


message 46: by Hazel (new)

Hazel West | 816 comments Mod
While I agree with you, Pauline, I don't think it's fair to categorize all books in the genre 'historical romance' the same. Some are very good. I'm not a huge fan of romance, but I have read several historical romances that were respectable and well-researched. There's also nothing degrading about getting your book classed as historical romance. Jane Austin is. It doesn't have to fall into the category of the dime romances you find at the supermarket.


message 47: by Bryn (last edited Dec 12, 2012 01:23PM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments I shiver at the word 'romance' -- even though people put books I love on shelves they call 'historical romance'. Which to me misrepresents them. I had to determine Pauline's The Slave isn't a conventional romance, before I'd bite, and that's hard to do, when it's classified so. I've wanted to ask Pauline about that - where she feels herself to be in the romance area and whether she has had trouble with the conventions. I ought to ask in her own thread.

To me, Jane Austen isn't romance but social commmentary.


message 48: by Pauline (new)

Pauline Montagna (pauline_montagna) I'm with you there, Hazel. I do love real historical romance and I would call The Slave historical romance myself. Unfortunately the category (or dime) romance publishers have taken over the 'historical romance' genre, and now their rubbish and real historical romance are all thrown in together and so The Slave has been tarred with the same brush. You should see the company it keeps on Amazon!

Thanks, Bryn. Please do join my Q&A and I invite everyone else too and we can continue this discussion there. http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/8...


message 49: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (KAHohmann) | 12 comments Pauline wrote: "I'm with you there, Hazel. I do love real historical romance and I would call The Slave historical romance myself. Unfortunately the category (or dime) romance publishers have taken over the 'histo..."

I could not agree more. The categories can be slippery slopes --I'm not always thrilled with books residing there, and you know what they say: They judge a book by the company it keeps!

True indeed, Pauline.


message 50: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (BrynHammond) | 275 comments I'm reluctant about the Q&As. Don't ask me to explain why. I'll watch yours and see.


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