Historical Fiction is considered one of the oldest genres of writing in the world. Many of the great classics are considered as historical fiction – the Four Chinese Classics, La Princesse de Clèves and A Tale of Two Cities are all argued to be part of the genre. The definitions are often disputed, but by and large it’s agreed that works should be set at least 25 years prior to writing and based on research rather than personal experience. Historical fiction is a retelling or re-imagining of real events and people, often with the authors own beliefs and interpretations as part of the work.
This can be hugely influential of the way that people in the present day view the time period explored in the text. Often this is used for political means – the romanticising of a country’s past, for instance, in order to build up national feelings (such as in the case of Sir Walter Scott’s works of Scottish historical fiction and the influence they had on how Scotland’s culture was valued) or to bring attention to the value of historical artefacts by linking them in the public’s minds to stories that they value and enjoy.
This makes historical fiction a fantastic platform for building up one’s own ideas and stories. There are so many incredible hidden histories that we can discover and write about while giving our own interpretation of the research. History can inspire us to write and we can use this genre as an opportunity to bring light to events that may not have been given value or attention before – or ones that we simply find fascinating!
The Historical Fiction For Fearties workshop is a chance for you to explore this wonderful genre. Lead by Margaret Elphinstone, the Scottish novelist and one of the GWL’s 21 Revolutions writers, it will look at the diaries of Henrietta Liston, an incredible women who wrote extensively about her life and experiences in 18th century United States. Elphinstone, with her vast experience of researching and writing historical fiction, will use the diaries as a starting point for you to try using the past for your own work.
Historical Writing For Fearties is on Thursday 16th March from 2.30pm to 4.20pm. £2/free. Women only. For more information about this and other events please follow this link.