Historical Fiction Has Rules - PAH!!!

15 September 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing

I’m beginning to get very annoyed by this mini-trend of folks slagging me off over ‘historical truth’ in historical fiction; when Antony Beevor published his piece in the Guardian, I figured the best thing was to remain schtum and let him have his say.  A man needs to be able to defend his great-grandma, after all.  But now someone has taken up this baton and run with it in the Globe & Mail newspaper.

So, I will marshall my thoughts and reply via this blog in the next few days.

Pah!  That’s all I’ll say for the time being.


Fairlee Winfield, 15 September 2009, 08:39 PM

Right on!  I’ll be waiting for your next post.  There is no historical truth.  It all depends on who is telling the story at the moment.  Witness the great myth that America was home to but a few native people when “discovered.”  Hey, even the Norse were here 100 years before and there were cities that dwarfed what was in Europe.  Historical truth. PAH!

Kate, 15 September 2009, 08:48 PM

A comment!  Thanks Fairlee Winfield.  Someone to shout PAH! with at last!

Dave McGowan, 17 September 2009, 01:48 AM

Right on with PAH!
History is written by the winners.
If the South had won in 1865 the US Civil War would have been all about State rights. Now we’re told it was all about slavery.
In the mid 1800s natives talked about the hairy monsters with long teeth and a long nose and were asked what berry they had been chewing. In the 20th century it was discoverd that the last wooly mammoth to die may have done so in North America.
I posted several blogs on this subject and perhaps I will again in support of yours.

David Mulholland, 13 November 2009, 09:36 PM

I just finished reading Brian Bethune’s piece in Maclean’s (Nov. 16/09), which compares your use of historical material in fiction with that Hilary Mantel. As an author of historical fiction, my approach is to be as true as possible to the historical record—except that the “historical record” often depends upon the historian. For anyone who is interested, I’ve elaborated on this topic on my website’s Message Board: www.davidmulholland.ca. I’m sure the debate will continue.


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