Skip to content

Special issue - Historical Fiction

Flyers and their traumas: the RAF in the Second World War / Matthew Grant

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

One would naturally expect the two books under review, one a history published by an academic press and the other a novel, to be very different treatments of their chosen theme. Yet it is the similarities between them that consistently strike the reader.


Shell-shocked: trauma, the emotions and the First World War / Tracey Loughran

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

I was 16 or 17 when I first read Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy, and 26 when I completed my PhD on shell shock in First World War Britain.


Telling ghost stories / Judith Harris

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

Pompeii is the quintessential ghost story, frequently told by archaeological and literary scribes working together in symbiosis, not always for the good. In this multitude of ghost raconteurs novelist Robert Harris stands tall.


Restoration: fact and fiction in the stores of history / Alan Marshall

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

Sir Walter Scott, masquerading both as ‘The Author’, as well as his pompous alter-ego, the historian ‘Dr Jonas Dryasdust’, inserted the following dialogue into the beginning of his historical novel of the Restoration period, Peveril of the Peak (1823): ‘Author…you mean to say these learned persons [historians] will have but little toleration for a romance, or a fictious narrative, founded upon history? Dryasdust: Why sir, I…


Nuns (not) on the run / Caroline Bowden

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

The challenge in writing a comparative review of Kate Lowe’s fine study of early modern Italian convents Nuns’ Chronicles and Convent Culture with Sarah Dunant’s gripping novel Sacred Hearts is to find ways of making sense of the experience of reading both beyond stating the obvious. They are both about the religious life of women in a particular time (early modern) and in one country (Italy).


Moscow as city and metaphor / Alexander Martin

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

Penelope Fitzgerald’s historical novel The Beginning of Spring, set in Moscow in 1913 but written at the height of perestroika, conveys an ambivalence familiar to those of us who spent time there during the Gorbachev years. Much in the Moscow she describes is grimy and discouraging: the oppressive bureaucracy; the ugly, derelict buildings; and, for much of the year, the gray, wet, depressing weather.


Debating the Cultural Revolution in China / Julia Lovell

No image found

Review Date: 01 December 2011

In Western imaginations, the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76) – in which one of the world’s oldest, most elaborate cultures began destroying itself, in which a successful, disciplined political organisation tore its own heart out, and in which colleagues and classmates turned murderously on each other – stands among the landmarks of the recent Chinese past.


The many faces of Thomas Cromwell / Mark Horowitz

No image found

Review Date: 01 November 2011

When a late-medieval or Tudor historian is asked to compare and contrast a historical novel with a scholarly book that both take as their subject Thomas Cromwell, and the latter work has been written by the late G R Elton, the inevitable disclaimer becomes compulsory unless that historian has spent several decades inhabiting a historiographically-isolated cave during the rise and fall of the Tudor revolution in…


The dark side of Victorian London / Kaye Jones

No image found

Review Date: 01 November 2011

‘I am what you would call a Fallen Woman, but I assure you I did not fall – I was pushed’ (Faber, p. 336). Meet Sugar, a 19-year-old prostitute and protagonist of Michel Faber’s novel, The Crimson Petal and the White. Forced into prostitution at the tender age of 13, Sugar plies her trade at Mrs Castaway’s, a brothel in the St Giles area of London.


The Crusades / Jenny Benham

No image found

Review Date: 01 November 2011

Jan Guillou is a well-known Swedish author, journalist and political commentator.


No Image Found

This special issue was commissioned to coincide with the IHR’s November 2011 conference, ‘Novel approaches: from academic history to historical fiction', which sought to to explore this current publishing phenomenon. It brought together a wide range of speakers, including academic and public historians, authors and publishers. They examined  such questions as: Why have historical novels become ‘respectable’, and why anecdotally are historians being encouraged to write them? What is the difference between historical fiction and academic history, and how rigid are the boundaries between the two? How good are readers at differentiating between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ and how much does it matter if they don’t? Does the success of historical fiction benefit or threaten academic history, and what can literary authors and academics learn from each other? To coincide with the physical event, a virtual conference was also scheduled, which featured podcasted lectures from the Novel Approaches conference; articles by historians and historical novelists; opinion pieces; bibliographies; lists of online resources - and book reviews. For the book reviews we commissioned academic historians to compare and contrast a work of historical fiction and a work of academic history on the same subject, and had a great and varied response, as you can see below.

Special issues

No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found
No Image Found