The Accuracy of Historical Fiction

The Accuracy of Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is growing in popularity but there are many instances where a reader wants to take exception to a point made in the book or to some minor detail. This often helps to fuel the debate about how accurate historical fiction should be.

When it comes to historical fiction, different readers have different tastes. It is important to remember that people have an affection for different points in history, so those who might want to read about the Tudors instead of about the Victorians might be more inclined to pick out inaccuracies in a work about the Victorians.

The truth is that when it comes to fiction, it is the role of the author to tell a good story. Occasionally it may be necessary to ignore a particular fact or to tweak an event so that it fits in with the story being told. The nature of ‘fiction’ is that it is a work of the imagination.

As a general rule, authors should at least try to get the main points as accurate as possible. For example, an author who moves the dates of the First World War simply because it suits will not win much praise from the audience. If the change of dates is to create an alternative timeline then that is a different matter entirely and could be justified by the rest of the story.

For those who want their historical fiction to be as accurate as possible, check out the authors who are known for their excellent research and attention to detail such as Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick. Accurate historical fiction can teach the reader a great deal about various periods in history.