Monday, July 21, 2008

Historical Accuracy in Fiction

Yesterday Revisited has some thoughts on how the integrity of historical figures should be respected when writing novels. I could not agree more. Just because it is fiction does not mean it is a free-for-all. To quote Susan Higginbotham:
I'm not the sort of purist who goes ballistic when someone in a historical novel wears slashed sleeves a century before they were fashionable (though I'd rather not see such sartorial blunders, which are easy enough to avoid), but I do believe firmly that historical novelists should depict real people as accurately as possible. I harp a great deal on one pro-Richard III novel where William, Lord Hastings is portrayed as drugging and raping a virgin peasant girl, who later dies of the effects of the drug. Such a depiction, which has no justification in the historical record, is, simply put, character assassination.

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