Historical Honesty

0003 Funny how things bubble up in the news that reflect something we're already thinking about. I saw an article that touches on what's on my mind again lately, writing-wise … the question of historical accuracy vs. historical honesty in fiction.

Mel Gibson made a new comment on William Wallace, all these years after the film "Braveheart" (1995 – woh, has it been that long??) … he was quoted in the UK news saying that in reality Wallace was not the hero depicted in the film–but a "monster" and a berserker, and that the film was not historically accurate.

Not accurate?! Not too surprising for those interested in medieval history, or for those who've seen the film — the writer and filmmakers made stuff up about Wallace, basically. It's a necessity in creating historical fiction — enhancing the historical record, speculating, extrapolating, obscuring fact or inserting fabrication. And it's a constant dilemma for writers of historical fiction (books or films) — to tweak, or not to tweak?

Braveheart is beautifully done, with enough basic facts in place to powerfully evoke character, emotion, a pulse-pounding story with heroics, complexity, a deeply romantic side and a solid sense of authenticity. It masterfully evokes a historical era and a powerful cause in history.

Wallace sword But Gibson's comment, and the kerfuffle over whether or not the film accurately depicted Wallace's life and times, raises an interesting question. Should we expect total accuracy in a book or a film about a historical subject? Sometimes we do want the facts — and some historical novels provide all the grit and the nasty stuff, the ugly truths, major and minor, the long gaps in the actual timeline, the complexities of history intricately interwoven with the elements of story. These are rich novels and big reads, for the most part. The pitfall in a book like this tends to be pacing, and the risk of information overload.

Sometimes, though, we want a galloping, rollicking good story that informs and entertains –  even if it is history streamlined, dynamic, distilled to its most essential facts and qualities. Historical fiction does not always have to account for every truth in the scope of the subject and the story — it is uniquely capable of evoking and conjuring the past, even if that means taking shortcuts and bending truths here and there.

Lady Macbeth paperback cover I'm a stickler for accuracy in my own historical writing and I will go a far way to make sure the details of what I'm describing are right. But I am not always a stickler for historical truth in every aspect of the book. Story and character come first: I am a novelist before I am a historian. 

Does it matter if the movie was accurate to the real Wallace? We know only a few intriguing facts about Wallace. True, he was probably never the hero in his own day that he's become now. With or without the film, Wallace is half legend in Scottish history.

Braveheart Yet he committed some heinous acts (he flayed the skin from the English treasurer killed at Stirling and made a purse of him; OK, so he had a sense of humor…). It's accurate, but did it belong in the movie? Wallace had his bad moments, but he wasn't a monster – he had good moments, too. As a rebel and a freedom fighter, he initiated an effort that eventually helped liberate the Scots from English oppression at the time. The situation was far more complex than could have been presented in a two-hour film.

There have always been quibbles about "Braveheart" — the kilts aren't right (the kilt we know wasn't worn then, but they were using plaids as cloaks and wraps) and Wallace was more Lowlander than Highlander, so he would have worn chain mail armor as a minor knight rather than a Highlander. Princess Isabella was a child; Wallace was possibly 6'7" (Edward I was 6'6", so of course the Scots claimed Wallace was bigger, yet there is some evidence to support it); the battle of Stirling was fought at a bridge, not on a field; what about that blue face paint…and so on.

My guess is that historical accuracy was never the point of the film in the first place.Christine de pisan There's accuracy. and there's authenticity. A writer often must decide between what will improve the story and what will detract from it. Story must be folded in with facts, but ultimately the result is fiction.

Here's my favorite Mel Gibson/Wallace story… Several years ago in Scotland, I met a historian who had met Mel Gibson during the filming of the movie. This older gentleman did not know who Mel Gibson was as he answered questions about Wallace, Bruce and the Scottish war of independence. He learned that Gibson was making a movie about Wallace, and directing the movie. Then he asked who was playing Wallace, and Gibson answered, "I am."

Wallace_statue The historian paused, looked him up and down, lowered his glasses to the end of his nose, and said tactfully…"Did ye know Wallace was a big man?" 

Ah, but there are camera angles. And there is the skill of evoking. There is authenticity over accuracy. And sometimes we learn more, and find more substance, through characters, plot and emotion than we do with just the facts.

How important is accuracy in historical fiction to you? Is less more in a good historical read — or do you find a detailed read more successful?

Susan

P.S. Book giveaway! I'll send an autographed copy of my historically accurate yet judiciously fictionalized novel, LADY MACBETH, to one of the readers of this blog — post a comment and add to the discussion of historical fiction before midnight on Sunday, Nov. 8, and you'll be entered in the drawing!

175 thoughts on “Historical Honesty”

  1. Hi Susan,
    Historical accuracy is very important to me when I’m writing, but there are times I need to remind myself that I’m writing fiction, and need to be entertaining as well. I try to keep to historical facts, and weave the story around it. I do love to research little-known or unusual facts, though, and use them in a story.

    Reply
  2. Hi Susan,
    Historical accuracy is very important to me when I’m writing, but there are times I need to remind myself that I’m writing fiction, and need to be entertaining as well. I try to keep to historical facts, and weave the story around it. I do love to research little-known or unusual facts, though, and use them in a story.

    Reply
  3. Hi Susan,
    Historical accuracy is very important to me when I’m writing, but there are times I need to remind myself that I’m writing fiction, and need to be entertaining as well. I try to keep to historical facts, and weave the story around it. I do love to research little-known or unusual facts, though, and use them in a story.

    Reply
  4. Hi Susan,
    Historical accuracy is very important to me when I’m writing, but there are times I need to remind myself that I’m writing fiction, and need to be entertaining as well. I try to keep to historical facts, and weave the story around it. I do love to research little-known or unusual facts, though, and use them in a story.

    Reply
  5. Hi Susan,
    Historical accuracy is very important to me when I’m writing, but there are times I need to remind myself that I’m writing fiction, and need to be entertaining as well. I try to keep to historical facts, and weave the story around it. I do love to research little-known or unusual facts, though, and use them in a story.

    Reply
  6. I try to be as accurate and research as much as possible when I write. I can be forgiving when I read though, unless the author has committed a true howler (and I’ve come across quite a few). I’m in it for the story, but I appreciate learning something as well, so my fingers are crossed for accuracy.

    Reply
  7. I try to be as accurate and research as much as possible when I write. I can be forgiving when I read though, unless the author has committed a true howler (and I’ve come across quite a few). I’m in it for the story, but I appreciate learning something as well, so my fingers are crossed for accuracy.

    Reply
  8. I try to be as accurate and research as much as possible when I write. I can be forgiving when I read though, unless the author has committed a true howler (and I’ve come across quite a few). I’m in it for the story, but I appreciate learning something as well, so my fingers are crossed for accuracy.

    Reply
  9. I try to be as accurate and research as much as possible when I write. I can be forgiving when I read though, unless the author has committed a true howler (and I’ve come across quite a few). I’m in it for the story, but I appreciate learning something as well, so my fingers are crossed for accuracy.

    Reply
  10. I try to be as accurate and research as much as possible when I write. I can be forgiving when I read though, unless the author has committed a true howler (and I’ve come across quite a few). I’m in it for the story, but I appreciate learning something as well, so my fingers are crossed for accuracy.

    Reply
  11. Accuracy is good in that it creates the atmosphere of the story. The past was different from the present and we need to honor that as well as we are able.
    In many modern stories, the physical artifacts may be correct (dress, transportation modes, etc.) but the attitudes and behavior are 21st century. I think that’s a worse error than having a minor detail of footwear wrong.
    Although, I want everything perfect! Now that I’ve learned something about the Regency, I know just enough to realize where the errors are. Although, before, in my ignorant bliss, the authors got the details so correct I didn’t even know when an error snuck in.

    Reply
  12. Accuracy is good in that it creates the atmosphere of the story. The past was different from the present and we need to honor that as well as we are able.
    In many modern stories, the physical artifacts may be correct (dress, transportation modes, etc.) but the attitudes and behavior are 21st century. I think that’s a worse error than having a minor detail of footwear wrong.
    Although, I want everything perfect! Now that I’ve learned something about the Regency, I know just enough to realize where the errors are. Although, before, in my ignorant bliss, the authors got the details so correct I didn’t even know when an error snuck in.

    Reply
  13. Accuracy is good in that it creates the atmosphere of the story. The past was different from the present and we need to honor that as well as we are able.
    In many modern stories, the physical artifacts may be correct (dress, transportation modes, etc.) but the attitudes and behavior are 21st century. I think that’s a worse error than having a minor detail of footwear wrong.
    Although, I want everything perfect! Now that I’ve learned something about the Regency, I know just enough to realize where the errors are. Although, before, in my ignorant bliss, the authors got the details so correct I didn’t even know when an error snuck in.

    Reply
  14. Accuracy is good in that it creates the atmosphere of the story. The past was different from the present and we need to honor that as well as we are able.
    In many modern stories, the physical artifacts may be correct (dress, transportation modes, etc.) but the attitudes and behavior are 21st century. I think that’s a worse error than having a minor detail of footwear wrong.
    Although, I want everything perfect! Now that I’ve learned something about the Regency, I know just enough to realize where the errors are. Although, before, in my ignorant bliss, the authors got the details so correct I didn’t even know when an error snuck in.

    Reply
  15. Accuracy is good in that it creates the atmosphere of the story. The past was different from the present and we need to honor that as well as we are able.
    In many modern stories, the physical artifacts may be correct (dress, transportation modes, etc.) but the attitudes and behavior are 21st century. I think that’s a worse error than having a minor detail of footwear wrong.
    Although, I want everything perfect! Now that I’ve learned something about the Regency, I know just enough to realize where the errors are. Although, before, in my ignorant bliss, the authors got the details so correct I didn’t even know when an error snuck in.

    Reply
  16. This is an endless interesting topic for those of us who write history into our stories. I would never be up to the rigors of historical biography such as you write, Susan, and it’s particularly challenging since you write in periods where so little is known. Yet you certainly capture the heart of your times and characters.
    Since what I do is more costume drama, there are less historical hurdles, but I still want the framework to be solid and true, and if any genuine historical characters appear, I want them to fit what is known about them.
    As for Mel GIbson’s comments on William Wallance–he is NOT the man I would go to for historical accuracy!

    Reply
  17. This is an endless interesting topic for those of us who write history into our stories. I would never be up to the rigors of historical biography such as you write, Susan, and it’s particularly challenging since you write in periods where so little is known. Yet you certainly capture the heart of your times and characters.
    Since what I do is more costume drama, there are less historical hurdles, but I still want the framework to be solid and true, and if any genuine historical characters appear, I want them to fit what is known about them.
    As for Mel GIbson’s comments on William Wallance–he is NOT the man I would go to for historical accuracy!

    Reply
  18. This is an endless interesting topic for those of us who write history into our stories. I would never be up to the rigors of historical biography such as you write, Susan, and it’s particularly challenging since you write in periods where so little is known. Yet you certainly capture the heart of your times and characters.
    Since what I do is more costume drama, there are less historical hurdles, but I still want the framework to be solid and true, and if any genuine historical characters appear, I want them to fit what is known about them.
    As for Mel GIbson’s comments on William Wallance–he is NOT the man I would go to for historical accuracy!

    Reply
  19. This is an endless interesting topic for those of us who write history into our stories. I would never be up to the rigors of historical biography such as you write, Susan, and it’s particularly challenging since you write in periods where so little is known. Yet you certainly capture the heart of your times and characters.
    Since what I do is more costume drama, there are less historical hurdles, but I still want the framework to be solid and true, and if any genuine historical characters appear, I want them to fit what is known about them.
    As for Mel GIbson’s comments on William Wallance–he is NOT the man I would go to for historical accuracy!

    Reply
  20. This is an endless interesting topic for those of us who write history into our stories. I would never be up to the rigors of historical biography such as you write, Susan, and it’s particularly challenging since you write in periods where so little is known. Yet you certainly capture the heart of your times and characters.
    Since what I do is more costume drama, there are less historical hurdles, but I still want the framework to be solid and true, and if any genuine historical characters appear, I want them to fit what is known about them.
    As for Mel GIbson’s comments on William Wallance–he is NOT the man I would go to for historical accuracy!

    Reply
  21. I am currently working my way through an idea set in Britain at the time of the Roman Occupation. This is my first stab at a historical romance.
    The need for me to “get it right” has lead me to learn just how much research goes into writing a historical novel, and how wrapped up you can get in the anthropology of the time period. I now have a collection of books on the Roman time period in Britain (my favorite is a book on Vindolanda), all sourced in used book shops. I discovered a new obsession along the way 😛
    The armour, the latin, women’s status, the way business was conducted, food, the legends (King Arthur); it all plays a part. I found it bogged me down until I realized that I must also craft a story that could pull a modern reader back to that time, with rose glasses firmly on the bridge of their nose, romantic ideals of the Roman Centurion and pampered Roman lady conjured up. Modernizing their speech and behaviours just a little made the story come alive. 🙂
    So where is the balance? Is there a macro and micro level of detail we must adhere to in crafting the accurately portrayed setting and time frame? I think Braveheart spoke to some to more of the general knowledge of Scottish History. I think they heavily borrowed from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time, which can be seen as the more “romantic” era for Highlanders and their fight for freedom. But nonetheless, it felt authentic, it felt gritty, and was a very good story in the end, even with historical innacuracies that most of the viewers may or may not know.

    Reply
  22. I am currently working my way through an idea set in Britain at the time of the Roman Occupation. This is my first stab at a historical romance.
    The need for me to “get it right” has lead me to learn just how much research goes into writing a historical novel, and how wrapped up you can get in the anthropology of the time period. I now have a collection of books on the Roman time period in Britain (my favorite is a book on Vindolanda), all sourced in used book shops. I discovered a new obsession along the way 😛
    The armour, the latin, women’s status, the way business was conducted, food, the legends (King Arthur); it all plays a part. I found it bogged me down until I realized that I must also craft a story that could pull a modern reader back to that time, with rose glasses firmly on the bridge of their nose, romantic ideals of the Roman Centurion and pampered Roman lady conjured up. Modernizing their speech and behaviours just a little made the story come alive. 🙂
    So where is the balance? Is there a macro and micro level of detail we must adhere to in crafting the accurately portrayed setting and time frame? I think Braveheart spoke to some to more of the general knowledge of Scottish History. I think they heavily borrowed from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time, which can be seen as the more “romantic” era for Highlanders and their fight for freedom. But nonetheless, it felt authentic, it felt gritty, and was a very good story in the end, even with historical innacuracies that most of the viewers may or may not know.

    Reply
  23. I am currently working my way through an idea set in Britain at the time of the Roman Occupation. This is my first stab at a historical romance.
    The need for me to “get it right” has lead me to learn just how much research goes into writing a historical novel, and how wrapped up you can get in the anthropology of the time period. I now have a collection of books on the Roman time period in Britain (my favorite is a book on Vindolanda), all sourced in used book shops. I discovered a new obsession along the way 😛
    The armour, the latin, women’s status, the way business was conducted, food, the legends (King Arthur); it all plays a part. I found it bogged me down until I realized that I must also craft a story that could pull a modern reader back to that time, with rose glasses firmly on the bridge of their nose, romantic ideals of the Roman Centurion and pampered Roman lady conjured up. Modernizing their speech and behaviours just a little made the story come alive. 🙂
    So where is the balance? Is there a macro and micro level of detail we must adhere to in crafting the accurately portrayed setting and time frame? I think Braveheart spoke to some to more of the general knowledge of Scottish History. I think they heavily borrowed from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time, which can be seen as the more “romantic” era for Highlanders and their fight for freedom. But nonetheless, it felt authentic, it felt gritty, and was a very good story in the end, even with historical innacuracies that most of the viewers may or may not know.

    Reply
  24. I am currently working my way through an idea set in Britain at the time of the Roman Occupation. This is my first stab at a historical romance.
    The need for me to “get it right” has lead me to learn just how much research goes into writing a historical novel, and how wrapped up you can get in the anthropology of the time period. I now have a collection of books on the Roman time period in Britain (my favorite is a book on Vindolanda), all sourced in used book shops. I discovered a new obsession along the way 😛
    The armour, the latin, women’s status, the way business was conducted, food, the legends (King Arthur); it all plays a part. I found it bogged me down until I realized that I must also craft a story that could pull a modern reader back to that time, with rose glasses firmly on the bridge of their nose, romantic ideals of the Roman Centurion and pampered Roman lady conjured up. Modernizing their speech and behaviours just a little made the story come alive. 🙂
    So where is the balance? Is there a macro and micro level of detail we must adhere to in crafting the accurately portrayed setting and time frame? I think Braveheart spoke to some to more of the general knowledge of Scottish History. I think they heavily borrowed from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time, which can be seen as the more “romantic” era for Highlanders and their fight for freedom. But nonetheless, it felt authentic, it felt gritty, and was a very good story in the end, even with historical innacuracies that most of the viewers may or may not know.

    Reply
  25. I am currently working my way through an idea set in Britain at the time of the Roman Occupation. This is my first stab at a historical romance.
    The need for me to “get it right” has lead me to learn just how much research goes into writing a historical novel, and how wrapped up you can get in the anthropology of the time period. I now have a collection of books on the Roman time period in Britain (my favorite is a book on Vindolanda), all sourced in used book shops. I discovered a new obsession along the way 😛
    The armour, the latin, women’s status, the way business was conducted, food, the legends (King Arthur); it all plays a part. I found it bogged me down until I realized that I must also craft a story that could pull a modern reader back to that time, with rose glasses firmly on the bridge of their nose, romantic ideals of the Roman Centurion and pampered Roman lady conjured up. Modernizing their speech and behaviours just a little made the story come alive. 🙂
    So where is the balance? Is there a macro and micro level of detail we must adhere to in crafting the accurately portrayed setting and time frame? I think Braveheart spoke to some to more of the general knowledge of Scottish History. I think they heavily borrowed from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s time, which can be seen as the more “romantic” era for Highlanders and their fight for freedom. But nonetheless, it felt authentic, it felt gritty, and was a very good story in the end, even with historical innacuracies that most of the viewers may or may not know.

    Reply
  26. I will read a historical that is accurate only to the writers imagination once in a while. My favorites are historicals that mix true historical facts, people, and customs with fiction. These stories are believable and I can imagine being there.

    Reply
  27. I will read a historical that is accurate only to the writers imagination once in a while. My favorites are historicals that mix true historical facts, people, and customs with fiction. These stories are believable and I can imagine being there.

    Reply
  28. I will read a historical that is accurate only to the writers imagination once in a while. My favorites are historicals that mix true historical facts, people, and customs with fiction. These stories are believable and I can imagine being there.

    Reply
  29. I will read a historical that is accurate only to the writers imagination once in a while. My favorites are historicals that mix true historical facts, people, and customs with fiction. These stories are believable and I can imagine being there.

    Reply
  30. I will read a historical that is accurate only to the writers imagination once in a while. My favorites are historicals that mix true historical facts, people, and customs with fiction. These stories are believable and I can imagine being there.

    Reply
  31. Also about Mel Gibson’s comments. I really liked Braveheart and learning later that there were a lot of historical liberties taken, I imagine if it was accurate it wouldn’t have been so well received.

    Reply
  32. Also about Mel Gibson’s comments. I really liked Braveheart and learning later that there were a lot of historical liberties taken, I imagine if it was accurate it wouldn’t have been so well received.

    Reply
  33. Also about Mel Gibson’s comments. I really liked Braveheart and learning later that there were a lot of historical liberties taken, I imagine if it was accurate it wouldn’t have been so well received.

    Reply
  34. Also about Mel Gibson’s comments. I really liked Braveheart and learning later that there were a lot of historical liberties taken, I imagine if it was accurate it wouldn’t have been so well received.

    Reply
  35. Also about Mel Gibson’s comments. I really liked Braveheart and learning later that there were a lot of historical liberties taken, I imagine if it was accurate it wouldn’t have been so well received.

    Reply
  36. My issue with Braveheart is that it does so little justice to Robert the Bruce, who was complex and flawed but also one of the great commanders of his age. I can’t watch the so-called Bannockburn scene at the end of Braveheart without grinding my teeth.
    That said, why do I even KNOW anything about Robert the Bruce? Because I liked Braveheart so much when it first came out that I went and looked up the real history behind it.

    Reply
  37. My issue with Braveheart is that it does so little justice to Robert the Bruce, who was complex and flawed but also one of the great commanders of his age. I can’t watch the so-called Bannockburn scene at the end of Braveheart without grinding my teeth.
    That said, why do I even KNOW anything about Robert the Bruce? Because I liked Braveheart so much when it first came out that I went and looked up the real history behind it.

    Reply
  38. My issue with Braveheart is that it does so little justice to Robert the Bruce, who was complex and flawed but also one of the great commanders of his age. I can’t watch the so-called Bannockburn scene at the end of Braveheart without grinding my teeth.
    That said, why do I even KNOW anything about Robert the Bruce? Because I liked Braveheart so much when it first came out that I went and looked up the real history behind it.

    Reply
  39. My issue with Braveheart is that it does so little justice to Robert the Bruce, who was complex and flawed but also one of the great commanders of his age. I can’t watch the so-called Bannockburn scene at the end of Braveheart without grinding my teeth.
    That said, why do I even KNOW anything about Robert the Bruce? Because I liked Braveheart so much when it first came out that I went and looked up the real history behind it.

    Reply
  40. My issue with Braveheart is that it does so little justice to Robert the Bruce, who was complex and flawed but also one of the great commanders of his age. I can’t watch the so-called Bannockburn scene at the end of Braveheart without grinding my teeth.
    That said, why do I even KNOW anything about Robert the Bruce? Because I liked Braveheart so much when it first came out that I went and looked up the real history behind it.

    Reply
  41. I enjoyed Braveheart even though I knew it wasn’t accurate. It was a story, a fairytale in someways, that didn’t need to be “real” to be enjoyable.
    For me being true to the time period in terms of lifestyle, setting, philosophy is much more important than having every date correct.
    As long as I know what I’m watching or reading is not pretending to be some historical bio-pic then I don’t mind when the dates, timing, places, or some of the people involved in actual historical events are slightly modified such as creating new children of a King or making the hero or heroine the inventor of something significant. In a historical romance or historical mystery it can help maintain the action and plot of the story. I also appreciate it when an author acknowledges these changes somewhere at the beginning or end of the book.
    I actually have more problems with inaccurate use of language and cliches than dates and people. I remember reading a regency once where someone told the hero he was “off base”. It was such modern slang that it completely threw me out of the story.

    Reply
  42. I enjoyed Braveheart even though I knew it wasn’t accurate. It was a story, a fairytale in someways, that didn’t need to be “real” to be enjoyable.
    For me being true to the time period in terms of lifestyle, setting, philosophy is much more important than having every date correct.
    As long as I know what I’m watching or reading is not pretending to be some historical bio-pic then I don’t mind when the dates, timing, places, or some of the people involved in actual historical events are slightly modified such as creating new children of a King or making the hero or heroine the inventor of something significant. In a historical romance or historical mystery it can help maintain the action and plot of the story. I also appreciate it when an author acknowledges these changes somewhere at the beginning or end of the book.
    I actually have more problems with inaccurate use of language and cliches than dates and people. I remember reading a regency once where someone told the hero he was “off base”. It was such modern slang that it completely threw me out of the story.

    Reply
  43. I enjoyed Braveheart even though I knew it wasn’t accurate. It was a story, a fairytale in someways, that didn’t need to be “real” to be enjoyable.
    For me being true to the time period in terms of lifestyle, setting, philosophy is much more important than having every date correct.
    As long as I know what I’m watching or reading is not pretending to be some historical bio-pic then I don’t mind when the dates, timing, places, or some of the people involved in actual historical events are slightly modified such as creating new children of a King or making the hero or heroine the inventor of something significant. In a historical romance or historical mystery it can help maintain the action and plot of the story. I also appreciate it when an author acknowledges these changes somewhere at the beginning or end of the book.
    I actually have more problems with inaccurate use of language and cliches than dates and people. I remember reading a regency once where someone told the hero he was “off base”. It was such modern slang that it completely threw me out of the story.

    Reply
  44. I enjoyed Braveheart even though I knew it wasn’t accurate. It was a story, a fairytale in someways, that didn’t need to be “real” to be enjoyable.
    For me being true to the time period in terms of lifestyle, setting, philosophy is much more important than having every date correct.
    As long as I know what I’m watching or reading is not pretending to be some historical bio-pic then I don’t mind when the dates, timing, places, or some of the people involved in actual historical events are slightly modified such as creating new children of a King or making the hero or heroine the inventor of something significant. In a historical romance or historical mystery it can help maintain the action and plot of the story. I also appreciate it when an author acknowledges these changes somewhere at the beginning or end of the book.
    I actually have more problems with inaccurate use of language and cliches than dates and people. I remember reading a regency once where someone told the hero he was “off base”. It was such modern slang that it completely threw me out of the story.

    Reply
  45. I enjoyed Braveheart even though I knew it wasn’t accurate. It was a story, a fairytale in someways, that didn’t need to be “real” to be enjoyable.
    For me being true to the time period in terms of lifestyle, setting, philosophy is much more important than having every date correct.
    As long as I know what I’m watching or reading is not pretending to be some historical bio-pic then I don’t mind when the dates, timing, places, or some of the people involved in actual historical events are slightly modified such as creating new children of a King or making the hero or heroine the inventor of something significant. In a historical romance or historical mystery it can help maintain the action and plot of the story. I also appreciate it when an author acknowledges these changes somewhere at the beginning or end of the book.
    I actually have more problems with inaccurate use of language and cliches than dates and people. I remember reading a regency once where someone told the hero he was “off base”. It was such modern slang that it completely threw me out of the story.

    Reply
  46. I like historical books to be somewhere near the truth. At least to give the “flavor” of the time period.
    As for movies…”Braveheart” is a reasonably watchable theatre event. Historical movies can be taken with the proverbal “grain of salt” as to accuracy.

    Reply
  47. I like historical books to be somewhere near the truth. At least to give the “flavor” of the time period.
    As for movies…”Braveheart” is a reasonably watchable theatre event. Historical movies can be taken with the proverbal “grain of salt” as to accuracy.

    Reply
  48. I like historical books to be somewhere near the truth. At least to give the “flavor” of the time period.
    As for movies…”Braveheart” is a reasonably watchable theatre event. Historical movies can be taken with the proverbal “grain of salt” as to accuracy.

    Reply
  49. I like historical books to be somewhere near the truth. At least to give the “flavor” of the time period.
    As for movies…”Braveheart” is a reasonably watchable theatre event. Historical movies can be taken with the proverbal “grain of salt” as to accuracy.

    Reply
  50. I like historical books to be somewhere near the truth. At least to give the “flavor” of the time period.
    As for movies…”Braveheart” is a reasonably watchable theatre event. Historical movies can be taken with the proverbal “grain of salt” as to accuracy.

    Reply
  51. I don’t need complete accuracy of the period because I myself wouldn’t know that some things were incorrect. There are some obvious things such as dialect or customs but many wouldn’t realize the error unless they searched themselves.

    Reply
  52. I don’t need complete accuracy of the period because I myself wouldn’t know that some things were incorrect. There are some obvious things such as dialect or customs but many wouldn’t realize the error unless they searched themselves.

    Reply
  53. I don’t need complete accuracy of the period because I myself wouldn’t know that some things were incorrect. There are some obvious things such as dialect or customs but many wouldn’t realize the error unless they searched themselves.

    Reply
  54. I don’t need complete accuracy of the period because I myself wouldn’t know that some things were incorrect. There are some obvious things such as dialect or customs but many wouldn’t realize the error unless they searched themselves.

    Reply
  55. I don’t need complete accuracy of the period because I myself wouldn’t know that some things were incorrect. There are some obvious things such as dialect or customs but many wouldn’t realize the error unless they searched themselves.

    Reply
  56. I much prefer accuracy, but if the writing and the characters are compelling, I’ve been known to forgive a lot. On the other hand, every so often an inaccuracy will pull me so entirely out of the story that I can no longer suspend disbelief; needless to say, the spell is broken.
    In general, I agree with Linda B that it’s contemporary attitudes in historical novels that are a worse sin than getting the details wrong, for example, Regency or Victorian misses who seem totally unconcerned with the possibility of pregancy or social ostracism when they blithely engage in sexual relations with the hero Although he’s clearly irresistible — he’s the hero, after all — I’d like her to put up a bit of resistance, or at least demonstrate that she understands the risks she’s taking. Pre-marital sex was not invented in the 1960s, but the risks were definitely higher pre-oral contraceptives.

    Reply
  57. I much prefer accuracy, but if the writing and the characters are compelling, I’ve been known to forgive a lot. On the other hand, every so often an inaccuracy will pull me so entirely out of the story that I can no longer suspend disbelief; needless to say, the spell is broken.
    In general, I agree with Linda B that it’s contemporary attitudes in historical novels that are a worse sin than getting the details wrong, for example, Regency or Victorian misses who seem totally unconcerned with the possibility of pregancy or social ostracism when they blithely engage in sexual relations with the hero Although he’s clearly irresistible — he’s the hero, after all — I’d like her to put up a bit of resistance, or at least demonstrate that she understands the risks she’s taking. Pre-marital sex was not invented in the 1960s, but the risks were definitely higher pre-oral contraceptives.

    Reply
  58. I much prefer accuracy, but if the writing and the characters are compelling, I’ve been known to forgive a lot. On the other hand, every so often an inaccuracy will pull me so entirely out of the story that I can no longer suspend disbelief; needless to say, the spell is broken.
    In general, I agree with Linda B that it’s contemporary attitudes in historical novels that are a worse sin than getting the details wrong, for example, Regency or Victorian misses who seem totally unconcerned with the possibility of pregancy or social ostracism when they blithely engage in sexual relations with the hero Although he’s clearly irresistible — he’s the hero, after all — I’d like her to put up a bit of resistance, or at least demonstrate that she understands the risks she’s taking. Pre-marital sex was not invented in the 1960s, but the risks were definitely higher pre-oral contraceptives.

    Reply
  59. I much prefer accuracy, but if the writing and the characters are compelling, I’ve been known to forgive a lot. On the other hand, every so often an inaccuracy will pull me so entirely out of the story that I can no longer suspend disbelief; needless to say, the spell is broken.
    In general, I agree with Linda B that it’s contemporary attitudes in historical novels that are a worse sin than getting the details wrong, for example, Regency or Victorian misses who seem totally unconcerned with the possibility of pregancy or social ostracism when they blithely engage in sexual relations with the hero Although he’s clearly irresistible — he’s the hero, after all — I’d like her to put up a bit of resistance, or at least demonstrate that she understands the risks she’s taking. Pre-marital sex was not invented in the 1960s, but the risks were definitely higher pre-oral contraceptives.

    Reply
  60. I much prefer accuracy, but if the writing and the characters are compelling, I’ve been known to forgive a lot. On the other hand, every so often an inaccuracy will pull me so entirely out of the story that I can no longer suspend disbelief; needless to say, the spell is broken.
    In general, I agree with Linda B that it’s contemporary attitudes in historical novels that are a worse sin than getting the details wrong, for example, Regency or Victorian misses who seem totally unconcerned with the possibility of pregancy or social ostracism when they blithely engage in sexual relations with the hero Although he’s clearly irresistible — he’s the hero, after all — I’d like her to put up a bit of resistance, or at least demonstrate that she understands the risks she’s taking. Pre-marital sex was not invented in the 1960s, but the risks were definitely higher pre-oral contraceptives.

    Reply
  61. Susan, like you I try to be historically accurate in my books. Ilove learning abut the dress and details of daily life in a specific era, and using those things to create a reastic ambiance is important. But we do write fiction, so I’m not such a stickler that I don’t feel I can’t play a little with reality, as long as it “feels” right.
    It’s a delicate balance, and for me there’s no hard-and-fast answer on what’s right. If an author can tweak the facts and carry me along in a story, I welcome it. On the other hand, if the characters and setting simply seem “wrong” then I will likely put the book down and never return.

    Reply
  62. Susan, like you I try to be historically accurate in my books. Ilove learning abut the dress and details of daily life in a specific era, and using those things to create a reastic ambiance is important. But we do write fiction, so I’m not such a stickler that I don’t feel I can’t play a little with reality, as long as it “feels” right.
    It’s a delicate balance, and for me there’s no hard-and-fast answer on what’s right. If an author can tweak the facts and carry me along in a story, I welcome it. On the other hand, if the characters and setting simply seem “wrong” then I will likely put the book down and never return.

    Reply
  63. Susan, like you I try to be historically accurate in my books. Ilove learning abut the dress and details of daily life in a specific era, and using those things to create a reastic ambiance is important. But we do write fiction, so I’m not such a stickler that I don’t feel I can’t play a little with reality, as long as it “feels” right.
    It’s a delicate balance, and for me there’s no hard-and-fast answer on what’s right. If an author can tweak the facts and carry me along in a story, I welcome it. On the other hand, if the characters and setting simply seem “wrong” then I will likely put the book down and never return.

    Reply
  64. Susan, like you I try to be historically accurate in my books. Ilove learning abut the dress and details of daily life in a specific era, and using those things to create a reastic ambiance is important. But we do write fiction, so I’m not such a stickler that I don’t feel I can’t play a little with reality, as long as it “feels” right.
    It’s a delicate balance, and for me there’s no hard-and-fast answer on what’s right. If an author can tweak the facts and carry me along in a story, I welcome it. On the other hand, if the characters and setting simply seem “wrong” then I will likely put the book down and never return.

    Reply
  65. Susan, like you I try to be historically accurate in my books. Ilove learning abut the dress and details of daily life in a specific era, and using those things to create a reastic ambiance is important. But we do write fiction, so I’m not such a stickler that I don’t feel I can’t play a little with reality, as long as it “feels” right.
    It’s a delicate balance, and for me there’s no hard-and-fast answer on what’s right. If an author can tweak the facts and carry me along in a story, I welcome it. On the other hand, if the characters and setting simply seem “wrong” then I will likely put the book down and never return.

    Reply
  66. I feel that historical accuracy is very important. A truly good author, IMHO, is a master at blending facts with the fiction that must become part and parcel of any historical book simply because we cannot know everything that happened in the past. I am just re-reading Margaret George’s “Mary, Queen of Scots” and i think it is a benchmark for me – a book that blends the facts with some fictionalized ‘perhaos’.

    Reply
  67. I feel that historical accuracy is very important. A truly good author, IMHO, is a master at blending facts with the fiction that must become part and parcel of any historical book simply because we cannot know everything that happened in the past. I am just re-reading Margaret George’s “Mary, Queen of Scots” and i think it is a benchmark for me – a book that blends the facts with some fictionalized ‘perhaos’.

    Reply
  68. I feel that historical accuracy is very important. A truly good author, IMHO, is a master at blending facts with the fiction that must become part and parcel of any historical book simply because we cannot know everything that happened in the past. I am just re-reading Margaret George’s “Mary, Queen of Scots” and i think it is a benchmark for me – a book that blends the facts with some fictionalized ‘perhaos’.

    Reply
  69. I feel that historical accuracy is very important. A truly good author, IMHO, is a master at blending facts with the fiction that must become part and parcel of any historical book simply because we cannot know everything that happened in the past. I am just re-reading Margaret George’s “Mary, Queen of Scots” and i think it is a benchmark for me – a book that blends the facts with some fictionalized ‘perhaos’.

    Reply
  70. I feel that historical accuracy is very important. A truly good author, IMHO, is a master at blending facts with the fiction that must become part and parcel of any historical book simply because we cannot know everything that happened in the past. I am just re-reading Margaret George’s “Mary, Queen of Scots” and i think it is a benchmark for me – a book that blends the facts with some fictionalized ‘perhaos’.

    Reply
  71. I do like historical accuracy in the historical novels I read. My interest in history is one of the reasons I read them. Having said that, I realize it is fiction and don’t expect all the details to be included. As with Braveheart, I think the aim was to depict the intensity and circumstances of the time in which Wallace lived and fought. Artistic license can be excused to get the point across. For those who know the inaccuracy in the details, it can be annoying.
    I remember when Knight’s Tale came out, there was a serious divide in the reenactment community The purists were offended by the music and dance scene in particular. Others appreciated the amount of accurate detail included in the film. As I heard it, when the movie was being made, they had to make a choice between a serious historically accurate film or the one they finally released. I love the final product. There are a lot of historical details that you generally don’t find. It is actually a good teaching tool for the way medieval life was. One is more likely to remember the way tournaments were run and the facts of life for medieval people with Queen playing in the background rather than some period correct music. What better entrance music for the knights at tournament than “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “We Will Rock You” for the joust. We can forgive the directors for the wave that went through the stands. So many good points were made in subtle ways. (The tournament signups being done by pointing to the sign since most participants were illiterate. The cage with the skeletal body hanging in the background at the crossroads. The fact that his and his father’s name was Thatcher because that was his father’s trade. The training routine that knights go through.)
    So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.

    Reply
  72. I do like historical accuracy in the historical novels I read. My interest in history is one of the reasons I read them. Having said that, I realize it is fiction and don’t expect all the details to be included. As with Braveheart, I think the aim was to depict the intensity and circumstances of the time in which Wallace lived and fought. Artistic license can be excused to get the point across. For those who know the inaccuracy in the details, it can be annoying.
    I remember when Knight’s Tale came out, there was a serious divide in the reenactment community The purists were offended by the music and dance scene in particular. Others appreciated the amount of accurate detail included in the film. As I heard it, when the movie was being made, they had to make a choice between a serious historically accurate film or the one they finally released. I love the final product. There are a lot of historical details that you generally don’t find. It is actually a good teaching tool for the way medieval life was. One is more likely to remember the way tournaments were run and the facts of life for medieval people with Queen playing in the background rather than some period correct music. What better entrance music for the knights at tournament than “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “We Will Rock You” for the joust. We can forgive the directors for the wave that went through the stands. So many good points were made in subtle ways. (The tournament signups being done by pointing to the sign since most participants were illiterate. The cage with the skeletal body hanging in the background at the crossroads. The fact that his and his father’s name was Thatcher because that was his father’s trade. The training routine that knights go through.)
    So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.

    Reply
  73. I do like historical accuracy in the historical novels I read. My interest in history is one of the reasons I read them. Having said that, I realize it is fiction and don’t expect all the details to be included. As with Braveheart, I think the aim was to depict the intensity and circumstances of the time in which Wallace lived and fought. Artistic license can be excused to get the point across. For those who know the inaccuracy in the details, it can be annoying.
    I remember when Knight’s Tale came out, there was a serious divide in the reenactment community The purists were offended by the music and dance scene in particular. Others appreciated the amount of accurate detail included in the film. As I heard it, when the movie was being made, they had to make a choice between a serious historically accurate film or the one they finally released. I love the final product. There are a lot of historical details that you generally don’t find. It is actually a good teaching tool for the way medieval life was. One is more likely to remember the way tournaments were run and the facts of life for medieval people with Queen playing in the background rather than some period correct music. What better entrance music for the knights at tournament than “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “We Will Rock You” for the joust. We can forgive the directors for the wave that went through the stands. So many good points were made in subtle ways. (The tournament signups being done by pointing to the sign since most participants were illiterate. The cage with the skeletal body hanging in the background at the crossroads. The fact that his and his father’s name was Thatcher because that was his father’s trade. The training routine that knights go through.)
    So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.

    Reply
  74. I do like historical accuracy in the historical novels I read. My interest in history is one of the reasons I read them. Having said that, I realize it is fiction and don’t expect all the details to be included. As with Braveheart, I think the aim was to depict the intensity and circumstances of the time in which Wallace lived and fought. Artistic license can be excused to get the point across. For those who know the inaccuracy in the details, it can be annoying.
    I remember when Knight’s Tale came out, there was a serious divide in the reenactment community The purists were offended by the music and dance scene in particular. Others appreciated the amount of accurate detail included in the film. As I heard it, when the movie was being made, they had to make a choice between a serious historically accurate film or the one they finally released. I love the final product. There are a lot of historical details that you generally don’t find. It is actually a good teaching tool for the way medieval life was. One is more likely to remember the way tournaments were run and the facts of life for medieval people with Queen playing in the background rather than some period correct music. What better entrance music for the knights at tournament than “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “We Will Rock You” for the joust. We can forgive the directors for the wave that went through the stands. So many good points were made in subtle ways. (The tournament signups being done by pointing to the sign since most participants were illiterate. The cage with the skeletal body hanging in the background at the crossroads. The fact that his and his father’s name was Thatcher because that was his father’s trade. The training routine that knights go through.)
    So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.

    Reply
  75. I do like historical accuracy in the historical novels I read. My interest in history is one of the reasons I read them. Having said that, I realize it is fiction and don’t expect all the details to be included. As with Braveheart, I think the aim was to depict the intensity and circumstances of the time in which Wallace lived and fought. Artistic license can be excused to get the point across. For those who know the inaccuracy in the details, it can be annoying.
    I remember when Knight’s Tale came out, there was a serious divide in the reenactment community The purists were offended by the music and dance scene in particular. Others appreciated the amount of accurate detail included in the film. As I heard it, when the movie was being made, they had to make a choice between a serious historically accurate film or the one they finally released. I love the final product. There are a lot of historical details that you generally don’t find. It is actually a good teaching tool for the way medieval life was. One is more likely to remember the way tournaments were run and the facts of life for medieval people with Queen playing in the background rather than some period correct music. What better entrance music for the knights at tournament than “The Boys Are Back In Town” or “We Will Rock You” for the joust. We can forgive the directors for the wave that went through the stands. So many good points were made in subtle ways. (The tournament signups being done by pointing to the sign since most participants were illiterate. The cage with the skeletal body hanging in the background at the crossroads. The fact that his and his father’s name was Thatcher because that was his father’s trade. The training routine that knights go through.)
    So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.

    Reply
  76. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  77. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  78. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  79. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  80. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  81. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  82. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  83. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  84. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  85. As a passionate reader of historical fiction, I believe accuracy is very important, especially if I know a fair bit about the time period. You can forgive a few liberties if they add to the flow of the story, but obvious howlers make me want to throw the book against the wall! I believe an author’s note at the end is an absolute must so that we can see what are the known facts and why the author made their particular choices. The story has to be belivable and the truly great ones make me feel almost like I’m there and that’s how it really could have been.

    Reply
  86. For me, detailed research makes all the difference in historical fiction. I appreciate the extra richness of even the little tidbits of historical accuracy scattered here and there. Webster defines history as an account of what has happened in the life of a people, country, etc. Who knows how much license is taken by “historian”? After all, are they not storytellers?

    Reply
  87. For me, detailed research makes all the difference in historical fiction. I appreciate the extra richness of even the little tidbits of historical accuracy scattered here and there. Webster defines history as an account of what has happened in the life of a people, country, etc. Who knows how much license is taken by “historian”? After all, are they not storytellers?

    Reply
  88. For me, detailed research makes all the difference in historical fiction. I appreciate the extra richness of even the little tidbits of historical accuracy scattered here and there. Webster defines history as an account of what has happened in the life of a people, country, etc. Who knows how much license is taken by “historian”? After all, are they not storytellers?

    Reply
  89. For me, detailed research makes all the difference in historical fiction. I appreciate the extra richness of even the little tidbits of historical accuracy scattered here and there. Webster defines history as an account of what has happened in the life of a people, country, etc. Who knows how much license is taken by “historian”? After all, are they not storytellers?

    Reply
  90. For me, detailed research makes all the difference in historical fiction. I appreciate the extra richness of even the little tidbits of historical accuracy scattered here and there. Webster defines history as an account of what has happened in the life of a people, country, etc. Who knows how much license is taken by “historian”? After all, are they not storytellers?

    Reply
  91. Interesting question, Susan. I suspect it has a lot to do with whether the history is your own history or not. I bet the Scots were much less forgiving of the liberties taken with their story.
    I realize there are many sides to every tale, and that people can report the same contemporary event with totally different views, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t approve of the use of history as mere cloth for the cutting.
    Susan Wilbanks, in the year I lived in Scotland as a kid, I read everything I could about Scottish history, and there were many tales of Robert the Bruce (and the spider), but none that I remember of William Wallace.

    Reply
  92. Interesting question, Susan. I suspect it has a lot to do with whether the history is your own history or not. I bet the Scots were much less forgiving of the liberties taken with their story.
    I realize there are many sides to every tale, and that people can report the same contemporary event with totally different views, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t approve of the use of history as mere cloth for the cutting.
    Susan Wilbanks, in the year I lived in Scotland as a kid, I read everything I could about Scottish history, and there were many tales of Robert the Bruce (and the spider), but none that I remember of William Wallace.

    Reply
  93. Interesting question, Susan. I suspect it has a lot to do with whether the history is your own history or not. I bet the Scots were much less forgiving of the liberties taken with their story.
    I realize there are many sides to every tale, and that people can report the same contemporary event with totally different views, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t approve of the use of history as mere cloth for the cutting.
    Susan Wilbanks, in the year I lived in Scotland as a kid, I read everything I could about Scottish history, and there were many tales of Robert the Bruce (and the spider), but none that I remember of William Wallace.

    Reply
  94. Interesting question, Susan. I suspect it has a lot to do with whether the history is your own history or not. I bet the Scots were much less forgiving of the liberties taken with their story.
    I realize there are many sides to every tale, and that people can report the same contemporary event with totally different views, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t approve of the use of history as mere cloth for the cutting.
    Susan Wilbanks, in the year I lived in Scotland as a kid, I read everything I could about Scottish history, and there were many tales of Robert the Bruce (and the spider), but none that I remember of William Wallace.

    Reply
  95. Interesting question, Susan. I suspect it has a lot to do with whether the history is your own history or not. I bet the Scots were much less forgiving of the liberties taken with their story.
    I realize there are many sides to every tale, and that people can report the same contemporary event with totally different views, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t approve of the use of history as mere cloth for the cutting.
    Susan Wilbanks, in the year I lived in Scotland as a kid, I read everything I could about Scottish history, and there were many tales of Robert the Bruce (and the spider), but none that I remember of William Wallace.

    Reply
  96. This is a wonderful post, Susan, and as a Shakspearean actress as well as a historical novelist I am eager to read LADY MACBETH. So much is not known about her that you have a vast license to creatively fill in the blanks.
    Historical accuracy is extremely important to me as an author (and as a reader, too, which is one reason why Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL so impressed me). As a writer, what I laughingly call “Leslie’s rules of historical fiction” mean that if an event did happen, I can put it in the novel. If it might plausibly have happened, I can give my imagination free rein. But if it most emphatically did not happen (e.g., in TOO GREAT A LADY I couldn’t possibly have given Lord Nelson 2 good arms and 2 good eyes by the time he reached Naples after his Nile victory; nor could I have had him survive Trafalgar) — in those cases, for my own personal integrity as a historical author, I will not go there.

    Reply
  97. This is a wonderful post, Susan, and as a Shakspearean actress as well as a historical novelist I am eager to read LADY MACBETH. So much is not known about her that you have a vast license to creatively fill in the blanks.
    Historical accuracy is extremely important to me as an author (and as a reader, too, which is one reason why Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL so impressed me). As a writer, what I laughingly call “Leslie’s rules of historical fiction” mean that if an event did happen, I can put it in the novel. If it might plausibly have happened, I can give my imagination free rein. But if it most emphatically did not happen (e.g., in TOO GREAT A LADY I couldn’t possibly have given Lord Nelson 2 good arms and 2 good eyes by the time he reached Naples after his Nile victory; nor could I have had him survive Trafalgar) — in those cases, for my own personal integrity as a historical author, I will not go there.

    Reply
  98. This is a wonderful post, Susan, and as a Shakspearean actress as well as a historical novelist I am eager to read LADY MACBETH. So much is not known about her that you have a vast license to creatively fill in the blanks.
    Historical accuracy is extremely important to me as an author (and as a reader, too, which is one reason why Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL so impressed me). As a writer, what I laughingly call “Leslie’s rules of historical fiction” mean that if an event did happen, I can put it in the novel. If it might plausibly have happened, I can give my imagination free rein. But if it most emphatically did not happen (e.g., in TOO GREAT A LADY I couldn’t possibly have given Lord Nelson 2 good arms and 2 good eyes by the time he reached Naples after his Nile victory; nor could I have had him survive Trafalgar) — in those cases, for my own personal integrity as a historical author, I will not go there.

    Reply
  99. This is a wonderful post, Susan, and as a Shakspearean actress as well as a historical novelist I am eager to read LADY MACBETH. So much is not known about her that you have a vast license to creatively fill in the blanks.
    Historical accuracy is extremely important to me as an author (and as a reader, too, which is one reason why Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL so impressed me). As a writer, what I laughingly call “Leslie’s rules of historical fiction” mean that if an event did happen, I can put it in the novel. If it might plausibly have happened, I can give my imagination free rein. But if it most emphatically did not happen (e.g., in TOO GREAT A LADY I couldn’t possibly have given Lord Nelson 2 good arms and 2 good eyes by the time he reached Naples after his Nile victory; nor could I have had him survive Trafalgar) — in those cases, for my own personal integrity as a historical author, I will not go there.

    Reply
  100. This is a wonderful post, Susan, and as a Shakspearean actress as well as a historical novelist I am eager to read LADY MACBETH. So much is not known about her that you have a vast license to creatively fill in the blanks.
    Historical accuracy is extremely important to me as an author (and as a reader, too, which is one reason why Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL so impressed me). As a writer, what I laughingly call “Leslie’s rules of historical fiction” mean that if an event did happen, I can put it in the novel. If it might plausibly have happened, I can give my imagination free rein. But if it most emphatically did not happen (e.g., in TOO GREAT A LADY I couldn’t possibly have given Lord Nelson 2 good arms and 2 good eyes by the time he reached Naples after his Nile victory; nor could I have had him survive Trafalgar) — in those cases, for my own personal integrity as a historical author, I will not go there.

    Reply
  101. I have learned quite a lot of history from novels – I do check facts I find interesting before I accept them as true. I personally find a story more believable if the main historical details are correct. I can still enjoy a story even if it is inaccurate but annoyance gnaws inside me because of the inaccuracies. An example would be Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I am a Scot and have studied my country’s history and Shakespeare’s story is total fabrication – it’s a fantastic story and play but it’s fiction and I just want to jump up and shout, “It’s unfair on Macbeth.” So yes, a novel is fiction but let’s keep the historical integrity.

    Reply
  102. I have learned quite a lot of history from novels – I do check facts I find interesting before I accept them as true. I personally find a story more believable if the main historical details are correct. I can still enjoy a story even if it is inaccurate but annoyance gnaws inside me because of the inaccuracies. An example would be Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I am a Scot and have studied my country’s history and Shakespeare’s story is total fabrication – it’s a fantastic story and play but it’s fiction and I just want to jump up and shout, “It’s unfair on Macbeth.” So yes, a novel is fiction but let’s keep the historical integrity.

    Reply
  103. I have learned quite a lot of history from novels – I do check facts I find interesting before I accept them as true. I personally find a story more believable if the main historical details are correct. I can still enjoy a story even if it is inaccurate but annoyance gnaws inside me because of the inaccuracies. An example would be Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I am a Scot and have studied my country’s history and Shakespeare’s story is total fabrication – it’s a fantastic story and play but it’s fiction and I just want to jump up and shout, “It’s unfair on Macbeth.” So yes, a novel is fiction but let’s keep the historical integrity.

    Reply
  104. I have learned quite a lot of history from novels – I do check facts I find interesting before I accept them as true. I personally find a story more believable if the main historical details are correct. I can still enjoy a story even if it is inaccurate but annoyance gnaws inside me because of the inaccuracies. An example would be Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I am a Scot and have studied my country’s history and Shakespeare’s story is total fabrication – it’s a fantastic story and play but it’s fiction and I just want to jump up and shout, “It’s unfair on Macbeth.” So yes, a novel is fiction but let’s keep the historical integrity.

    Reply
  105. I have learned quite a lot of history from novels – I do check facts I find interesting before I accept them as true. I personally find a story more believable if the main historical details are correct. I can still enjoy a story even if it is inaccurate but annoyance gnaws inside me because of the inaccuracies. An example would be Shakespeare’s Macbeth; I am a Scot and have studied my country’s history and Shakespeare’s story is total fabrication – it’s a fantastic story and play but it’s fiction and I just want to jump up and shout, “It’s unfair on Macbeth.” So yes, a novel is fiction but let’s keep the historical integrity.

    Reply
  106. Natalie, one of the reasons I wrote LADY MACBETH was for the same reason — the play, for all it’s a work of dramatic art, is very unjust to Macbeth, who now looks like he was a pretty decent king — and the play is even more unfair to Macbeth’s queen. I felt a strong urge to dive in and try to get the story as straight and accurate as possible. And yes, I had to make up a lot of stuff to do that … but whatever I added to flesh out the story fits the logic of the time and place, the historical situation, the culture, and so on. That’s the authentic part … the accurate part is who they were, when they lived, what that warrior society was like then, and what their political and cultural situation was in the context of medieval Scottish history.
    Leslie, lovely to see you here at WW! And I totally agree with you on integrity as a historical author. I won’t go so far as to fabricate a new reality that fits the story, if it means bending or losing so many basic supports in the actual/factual framework that it’s not the same historical story. I’m interested in honoring and expanding some fascinating history in the first place, that’s why I’m there as a writer and researcher. As a reader I look for the same – I want to know more, and I want to know that what I know is right.
    Super comments! Seems like most of us like and expect good historical reads to be accurate, yet most of us also appreciate the need for poetic license as well, so long as the historical subject is still served.
    I’m also curious to know what those of you in the UK and especially Scotland think of Braveheart!
    Susan

    Reply
  107. Natalie, one of the reasons I wrote LADY MACBETH was for the same reason — the play, for all it’s a work of dramatic art, is very unjust to Macbeth, who now looks like he was a pretty decent king — and the play is even more unfair to Macbeth’s queen. I felt a strong urge to dive in and try to get the story as straight and accurate as possible. And yes, I had to make up a lot of stuff to do that … but whatever I added to flesh out the story fits the logic of the time and place, the historical situation, the culture, and so on. That’s the authentic part … the accurate part is who they were, when they lived, what that warrior society was like then, and what their political and cultural situation was in the context of medieval Scottish history.
    Leslie, lovely to see you here at WW! And I totally agree with you on integrity as a historical author. I won’t go so far as to fabricate a new reality that fits the story, if it means bending or losing so many basic supports in the actual/factual framework that it’s not the same historical story. I’m interested in honoring and expanding some fascinating history in the first place, that’s why I’m there as a writer and researcher. As a reader I look for the same – I want to know more, and I want to know that what I know is right.
    Super comments! Seems like most of us like and expect good historical reads to be accurate, yet most of us also appreciate the need for poetic license as well, so long as the historical subject is still served.
    I’m also curious to know what those of you in the UK and especially Scotland think of Braveheart!
    Susan

    Reply
  108. Natalie, one of the reasons I wrote LADY MACBETH was for the same reason — the play, for all it’s a work of dramatic art, is very unjust to Macbeth, who now looks like he was a pretty decent king — and the play is even more unfair to Macbeth’s queen. I felt a strong urge to dive in and try to get the story as straight and accurate as possible. And yes, I had to make up a lot of stuff to do that … but whatever I added to flesh out the story fits the logic of the time and place, the historical situation, the culture, and so on. That’s the authentic part … the accurate part is who they were, when they lived, what that warrior society was like then, and what their political and cultural situation was in the context of medieval Scottish history.
    Leslie, lovely to see you here at WW! And I totally agree with you on integrity as a historical author. I won’t go so far as to fabricate a new reality that fits the story, if it means bending or losing so many basic supports in the actual/factual framework that it’s not the same historical story. I’m interested in honoring and expanding some fascinating history in the first place, that’s why I’m there as a writer and researcher. As a reader I look for the same – I want to know more, and I want to know that what I know is right.
    Super comments! Seems like most of us like and expect good historical reads to be accurate, yet most of us also appreciate the need for poetic license as well, so long as the historical subject is still served.
    I’m also curious to know what those of you in the UK and especially Scotland think of Braveheart!
    Susan

    Reply
  109. Natalie, one of the reasons I wrote LADY MACBETH was for the same reason — the play, for all it’s a work of dramatic art, is very unjust to Macbeth, who now looks like he was a pretty decent king — and the play is even more unfair to Macbeth’s queen. I felt a strong urge to dive in and try to get the story as straight and accurate as possible. And yes, I had to make up a lot of stuff to do that … but whatever I added to flesh out the story fits the logic of the time and place, the historical situation, the culture, and so on. That’s the authentic part … the accurate part is who they were, when they lived, what that warrior society was like then, and what their political and cultural situation was in the context of medieval Scottish history.
    Leslie, lovely to see you here at WW! And I totally agree with you on integrity as a historical author. I won’t go so far as to fabricate a new reality that fits the story, if it means bending or losing so many basic supports in the actual/factual framework that it’s not the same historical story. I’m interested in honoring and expanding some fascinating history in the first place, that’s why I’m there as a writer and researcher. As a reader I look for the same – I want to know more, and I want to know that what I know is right.
    Super comments! Seems like most of us like and expect good historical reads to be accurate, yet most of us also appreciate the need for poetic license as well, so long as the historical subject is still served.
    I’m also curious to know what those of you in the UK and especially Scotland think of Braveheart!
    Susan

    Reply
  110. Natalie, one of the reasons I wrote LADY MACBETH was for the same reason — the play, for all it’s a work of dramatic art, is very unjust to Macbeth, who now looks like he was a pretty decent king — and the play is even more unfair to Macbeth’s queen. I felt a strong urge to dive in and try to get the story as straight and accurate as possible. And yes, I had to make up a lot of stuff to do that … but whatever I added to flesh out the story fits the logic of the time and place, the historical situation, the culture, and so on. That’s the authentic part … the accurate part is who they were, when they lived, what that warrior society was like then, and what their political and cultural situation was in the context of medieval Scottish history.
    Leslie, lovely to see you here at WW! And I totally agree with you on integrity as a historical author. I won’t go so far as to fabricate a new reality that fits the story, if it means bending or losing so many basic supports in the actual/factual framework that it’s not the same historical story. I’m interested in honoring and expanding some fascinating history in the first place, that’s why I’m there as a writer and researcher. As a reader I look for the same – I want to know more, and I want to know that what I know is right.
    Super comments! Seems like most of us like and expect good historical reads to be accurate, yet most of us also appreciate the need for poetic license as well, so long as the historical subject is still served.
    I’m also curious to know what those of you in the UK and especially Scotland think of Braveheart!
    Susan

    Reply
  111. Patricia wrote:
    “So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.”
    Oh, I absolutely agree with this. Well said, Patricia. I love the bit about being lucky!
    Susan

    Reply
  112. Patricia wrote:
    “So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.”
    Oh, I absolutely agree with this. Well said, Patricia. I love the bit about being lucky!
    Susan

    Reply
  113. Patricia wrote:
    “So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.”
    Oh, I absolutely agree with this. Well said, Patricia. I love the bit about being lucky!
    Susan

    Reply
  114. Patricia wrote:
    “So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.”
    Oh, I absolutely agree with this. Well said, Patricia. I love the bit about being lucky!
    Susan

    Reply
  115. Patricia wrote:
    “So yes, I want accuracy, but lets not get stuffy. Too many details can bog a story down or detract from the point you are trying to get across. Little things can be put in the background for the lucky to find.”
    Oh, I absolutely agree with this. Well said, Patricia. I love the bit about being lucky!
    Susan

    Reply
  116. Terrific post. I especially love the kicker at the end… spoken like a true Scot.
    I’m pretty sure anyone who knows the period understood that Braveheart was not technically accurate, but it also worked to capture the heroic spirit of Wallace and his standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. I know when I toured Ayr, in particular, there were so many references to him that I began to understand how much he meant…Wallace’s Heel and Wallace Slept Here and Wallace leapt this river and Wallace did this and that. I knew the history of the period from books I’d written (specifically during the reign of Edward II, and I hated the way they portrayed him; he was a hearty, manly man, ill suited to rule, but powerfully vigorous) but I was still carried away by the legend of Braveheart, and when I toured, ending up at his tower, and looked at his sword, it was a stunning moment of history meets life. He is both the legend and the man who held that (enormous!) sword.
    Story sometimes tells more than fact.

    Reply
  117. Terrific post. I especially love the kicker at the end… spoken like a true Scot.
    I’m pretty sure anyone who knows the period understood that Braveheart was not technically accurate, but it also worked to capture the heroic spirit of Wallace and his standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. I know when I toured Ayr, in particular, there were so many references to him that I began to understand how much he meant…Wallace’s Heel and Wallace Slept Here and Wallace leapt this river and Wallace did this and that. I knew the history of the period from books I’d written (specifically during the reign of Edward II, and I hated the way they portrayed him; he was a hearty, manly man, ill suited to rule, but powerfully vigorous) but I was still carried away by the legend of Braveheart, and when I toured, ending up at his tower, and looked at his sword, it was a stunning moment of history meets life. He is both the legend and the man who held that (enormous!) sword.
    Story sometimes tells more than fact.

    Reply
  118. Terrific post. I especially love the kicker at the end… spoken like a true Scot.
    I’m pretty sure anyone who knows the period understood that Braveheart was not technically accurate, but it also worked to capture the heroic spirit of Wallace and his standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. I know when I toured Ayr, in particular, there were so many references to him that I began to understand how much he meant…Wallace’s Heel and Wallace Slept Here and Wallace leapt this river and Wallace did this and that. I knew the history of the period from books I’d written (specifically during the reign of Edward II, and I hated the way they portrayed him; he was a hearty, manly man, ill suited to rule, but powerfully vigorous) but I was still carried away by the legend of Braveheart, and when I toured, ending up at his tower, and looked at his sword, it was a stunning moment of history meets life. He is both the legend and the man who held that (enormous!) sword.
    Story sometimes tells more than fact.

    Reply
  119. Terrific post. I especially love the kicker at the end… spoken like a true Scot.
    I’m pretty sure anyone who knows the period understood that Braveheart was not technically accurate, but it also worked to capture the heroic spirit of Wallace and his standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. I know when I toured Ayr, in particular, there were so many references to him that I began to understand how much he meant…Wallace’s Heel and Wallace Slept Here and Wallace leapt this river and Wallace did this and that. I knew the history of the period from books I’d written (specifically during the reign of Edward II, and I hated the way they portrayed him; he was a hearty, manly man, ill suited to rule, but powerfully vigorous) but I was still carried away by the legend of Braveheart, and when I toured, ending up at his tower, and looked at his sword, it was a stunning moment of history meets life. He is both the legend and the man who held that (enormous!) sword.
    Story sometimes tells more than fact.

    Reply
  120. Terrific post. I especially love the kicker at the end… spoken like a true Scot.
    I’m pretty sure anyone who knows the period understood that Braveheart was not technically accurate, but it also worked to capture the heroic spirit of Wallace and his standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. I know when I toured Ayr, in particular, there were so many references to him that I began to understand how much he meant…Wallace’s Heel and Wallace Slept Here and Wallace leapt this river and Wallace did this and that. I knew the history of the period from books I’d written (specifically during the reign of Edward II, and I hated the way they portrayed him; he was a hearty, manly man, ill suited to rule, but powerfully vigorous) but I was still carried away by the legend of Braveheart, and when I toured, ending up at his tower, and looked at his sword, it was a stunning moment of history meets life. He is both the legend and the man who held that (enormous!) sword.
    Story sometimes tells more than fact.

    Reply
  121. A wonderful post, Susan, and a perennially interesting topic. There was a documentary about William Wallace on television in the UK recently and it explored the ways in which his legend has been interpreted and re-interpreted down the years. I find such myth-making fascinating – and the reasons behind it. There aren’t many hard facts about Wallace’s life at all so he is a very malleable hero.
    I tend to suspend disbelief when I watch historical drama such as Braveheart or The Tudors, and watch it purely as entertainment. Unless a programme or film purports to be an accurate record I don’t expect that from it and I enjoy it very much for what it is rather than expecting it to accurate.
    With writing I feel it’s a bit different. I do think that it’s important as a writer of fiction to use the background and detail of an era accurately to establish setting and atmosphere. It can add so much richness. I agree with Anne that history is very subjective though. Ask two different people for their version of an event and you will get a different account from each of them depending on what they think is important, what their beliefs are, whose side they are on etc etc. Also there are so many gaps in the historical record that in order to create a narrative a writer has to speculate about thoughts and feelings, and make links and assumptions. I think the skill is in keeping these authentic to the period.

    Reply
  122. A wonderful post, Susan, and a perennially interesting topic. There was a documentary about William Wallace on television in the UK recently and it explored the ways in which his legend has been interpreted and re-interpreted down the years. I find such myth-making fascinating – and the reasons behind it. There aren’t many hard facts about Wallace’s life at all so he is a very malleable hero.
    I tend to suspend disbelief when I watch historical drama such as Braveheart or The Tudors, and watch it purely as entertainment. Unless a programme or film purports to be an accurate record I don’t expect that from it and I enjoy it very much for what it is rather than expecting it to accurate.
    With writing I feel it’s a bit different. I do think that it’s important as a writer of fiction to use the background and detail of an era accurately to establish setting and atmosphere. It can add so much richness. I agree with Anne that history is very subjective though. Ask two different people for their version of an event and you will get a different account from each of them depending on what they think is important, what their beliefs are, whose side they are on etc etc. Also there are so many gaps in the historical record that in order to create a narrative a writer has to speculate about thoughts and feelings, and make links and assumptions. I think the skill is in keeping these authentic to the period.

    Reply
  123. A wonderful post, Susan, and a perennially interesting topic. There was a documentary about William Wallace on television in the UK recently and it explored the ways in which his legend has been interpreted and re-interpreted down the years. I find such myth-making fascinating – and the reasons behind it. There aren’t many hard facts about Wallace’s life at all so he is a very malleable hero.
    I tend to suspend disbelief when I watch historical drama such as Braveheart or The Tudors, and watch it purely as entertainment. Unless a programme or film purports to be an accurate record I don’t expect that from it and I enjoy it very much for what it is rather than expecting it to accurate.
    With writing I feel it’s a bit different. I do think that it’s important as a writer of fiction to use the background and detail of an era accurately to establish setting and atmosphere. It can add so much richness. I agree with Anne that history is very subjective though. Ask two different people for their version of an event and you will get a different account from each of them depending on what they think is important, what their beliefs are, whose side they are on etc etc. Also there are so many gaps in the historical record that in order to create a narrative a writer has to speculate about thoughts and feelings, and make links and assumptions. I think the skill is in keeping these authentic to the period.

    Reply
  124. A wonderful post, Susan, and a perennially interesting topic. There was a documentary about William Wallace on television in the UK recently and it explored the ways in which his legend has been interpreted and re-interpreted down the years. I find such myth-making fascinating – and the reasons behind it. There aren’t many hard facts about Wallace’s life at all so he is a very malleable hero.
    I tend to suspend disbelief when I watch historical drama such as Braveheart or The Tudors, and watch it purely as entertainment. Unless a programme or film purports to be an accurate record I don’t expect that from it and I enjoy it very much for what it is rather than expecting it to accurate.
    With writing I feel it’s a bit different. I do think that it’s important as a writer of fiction to use the background and detail of an era accurately to establish setting and atmosphere. It can add so much richness. I agree with Anne that history is very subjective though. Ask two different people for their version of an event and you will get a different account from each of them depending on what they think is important, what their beliefs are, whose side they are on etc etc. Also there are so many gaps in the historical record that in order to create a narrative a writer has to speculate about thoughts and feelings, and make links and assumptions. I think the skill is in keeping these authentic to the period.

    Reply
  125. A wonderful post, Susan, and a perennially interesting topic. There was a documentary about William Wallace on television in the UK recently and it explored the ways in which his legend has been interpreted and re-interpreted down the years. I find such myth-making fascinating – and the reasons behind it. There aren’t many hard facts about Wallace’s life at all so he is a very malleable hero.
    I tend to suspend disbelief when I watch historical drama such as Braveheart or The Tudors, and watch it purely as entertainment. Unless a programme or film purports to be an accurate record I don’t expect that from it and I enjoy it very much for what it is rather than expecting it to accurate.
    With writing I feel it’s a bit different. I do think that it’s important as a writer of fiction to use the background and detail of an era accurately to establish setting and atmosphere. It can add so much richness. I agree with Anne that history is very subjective though. Ask two different people for their version of an event and you will get a different account from each of them depending on what they think is important, what their beliefs are, whose side they are on etc etc. Also there are so many gaps in the historical record that in order to create a narrative a writer has to speculate about thoughts and feelings, and make links and assumptions. I think the skill is in keeping these authentic to the period.

    Reply
  126. Barbara, I love your comment: “Story sometimes tells more than fact.” Absolutely it does, and that’s one reason, I think, that historical fiction in particular always has a strong following. There are so many endlessly fascinating people and events in history, yet the lack of all the facts makes them very distant to us now – we can’t get a feel for it, though we may want to or even need to. Fiction, well done, that keeps a careful eye on history as well as story, can make those events and people seem real again. Fiction can revive history.
    The Wallace sword is amazing. There’s some debate about whether it’s his or not, but the provenance is strong enough that it certainly could have been in Wallace’s hands. A claidheamh mÃēr (claymore, big sword) measures about to the chin (pommel to ground) and this one is about 5’7″ and therefore sized to a man well over six feet. And the blade has been broken and repaired, indicating it was once even longer. If the claymores were indeed in use at that point in time (also debatable), it certainly belonged to a huge man.
    I once saw a sign in a shop window in Stirling, advertising an exhibit having to do with Wallace and Bruce. The sign gave the info and a pic of a Wallace statue, and read: “BIG MAN … BIG SWORD … BIG FUN.”
    Very funny, very Scottish in spirit, and very much to the point. As it were.
    Susan

    Reply
  127. Barbara, I love your comment: “Story sometimes tells more than fact.” Absolutely it does, and that’s one reason, I think, that historical fiction in particular always has a strong following. There are so many endlessly fascinating people and events in history, yet the lack of all the facts makes them very distant to us now – we can’t get a feel for it, though we may want to or even need to. Fiction, well done, that keeps a careful eye on history as well as story, can make those events and people seem real again. Fiction can revive history.
    The Wallace sword is amazing. There’s some debate about whether it’s his or not, but the provenance is strong enough that it certainly could have been in Wallace’s hands. A claidheamh mÃēr (claymore, big sword) measures about to the chin (pommel to ground) and this one is about 5’7″ and therefore sized to a man well over six feet. And the blade has been broken and repaired, indicating it was once even longer. If the claymores were indeed in use at that point in time (also debatable), it certainly belonged to a huge man.
    I once saw a sign in a shop window in Stirling, advertising an exhibit having to do with Wallace and Bruce. The sign gave the info and a pic of a Wallace statue, and read: “BIG MAN … BIG SWORD … BIG FUN.”
    Very funny, very Scottish in spirit, and very much to the point. As it were.
    Susan

    Reply
  128. Barbara, I love your comment: “Story sometimes tells more than fact.” Absolutely it does, and that’s one reason, I think, that historical fiction in particular always has a strong following. There are so many endlessly fascinating people and events in history, yet the lack of all the facts makes them very distant to us now – we can’t get a feel for it, though we may want to or even need to. Fiction, well done, that keeps a careful eye on history as well as story, can make those events and people seem real again. Fiction can revive history.
    The Wallace sword is amazing. There’s some debate about whether it’s his or not, but the provenance is strong enough that it certainly could have been in Wallace’s hands. A claidheamh mÃēr (claymore, big sword) measures about to the chin (pommel to ground) and this one is about 5’7″ and therefore sized to a man well over six feet. And the blade has been broken and repaired, indicating it was once even longer. If the claymores were indeed in use at that point in time (also debatable), it certainly belonged to a huge man.
    I once saw a sign in a shop window in Stirling, advertising an exhibit having to do with Wallace and Bruce. The sign gave the info and a pic of a Wallace statue, and read: “BIG MAN … BIG SWORD … BIG FUN.”
    Very funny, very Scottish in spirit, and very much to the point. As it were.
    Susan

    Reply
  129. Barbara, I love your comment: “Story sometimes tells more than fact.” Absolutely it does, and that’s one reason, I think, that historical fiction in particular always has a strong following. There are so many endlessly fascinating people and events in history, yet the lack of all the facts makes them very distant to us now – we can’t get a feel for it, though we may want to or even need to. Fiction, well done, that keeps a careful eye on history as well as story, can make those events and people seem real again. Fiction can revive history.
    The Wallace sword is amazing. There’s some debate about whether it’s his or not, but the provenance is strong enough that it certainly could have been in Wallace’s hands. A claidheamh mÃēr (claymore, big sword) measures about to the chin (pommel to ground) and this one is about 5’7″ and therefore sized to a man well over six feet. And the blade has been broken and repaired, indicating it was once even longer. If the claymores were indeed in use at that point in time (also debatable), it certainly belonged to a huge man.
    I once saw a sign in a shop window in Stirling, advertising an exhibit having to do with Wallace and Bruce. The sign gave the info and a pic of a Wallace statue, and read: “BIG MAN … BIG SWORD … BIG FUN.”
    Very funny, very Scottish in spirit, and very much to the point. As it were.
    Susan

    Reply
  130. Barbara, I love your comment: “Story sometimes tells more than fact.” Absolutely it does, and that’s one reason, I think, that historical fiction in particular always has a strong following. There are so many endlessly fascinating people and events in history, yet the lack of all the facts makes them very distant to us now – we can’t get a feel for it, though we may want to or even need to. Fiction, well done, that keeps a careful eye on history as well as story, can make those events and people seem real again. Fiction can revive history.
    The Wallace sword is amazing. There’s some debate about whether it’s his or not, but the provenance is strong enough that it certainly could have been in Wallace’s hands. A claidheamh mÃēr (claymore, big sword) measures about to the chin (pommel to ground) and this one is about 5’7″ and therefore sized to a man well over six feet. And the blade has been broken and repaired, indicating it was once even longer. If the claymores were indeed in use at that point in time (also debatable), it certainly belonged to a huge man.
    I once saw a sign in a shop window in Stirling, advertising an exhibit having to do with Wallace and Bruce. The sign gave the info and a pic of a Wallace statue, and read: “BIG MAN … BIG SWORD … BIG FUN.”
    Very funny, very Scottish in spirit, and very much to the point. As it were.
    Susan

    Reply
  131. Nicola, so true about having one approach as a reader or a viewer, and another as a writer. I tend to be very forgiving if I enjoy a film or a book – full accuracy not always required if the story is powerful and creates a strong sense of history and character.
    I’m much more demanding in my own writing, though often a lot of it ends up removed from the final version – TMI, too much info, interfering with story.
    But don’t get me started on the TV Tudors …!
    Susan

    Reply
  132. Nicola, so true about having one approach as a reader or a viewer, and another as a writer. I tend to be very forgiving if I enjoy a film or a book – full accuracy not always required if the story is powerful and creates a strong sense of history and character.
    I’m much more demanding in my own writing, though often a lot of it ends up removed from the final version – TMI, too much info, interfering with story.
    But don’t get me started on the TV Tudors …!
    Susan

    Reply
  133. Nicola, so true about having one approach as a reader or a viewer, and another as a writer. I tend to be very forgiving if I enjoy a film or a book – full accuracy not always required if the story is powerful and creates a strong sense of history and character.
    I’m much more demanding in my own writing, though often a lot of it ends up removed from the final version – TMI, too much info, interfering with story.
    But don’t get me started on the TV Tudors …!
    Susan

    Reply
  134. Nicola, so true about having one approach as a reader or a viewer, and another as a writer. I tend to be very forgiving if I enjoy a film or a book – full accuracy not always required if the story is powerful and creates a strong sense of history and character.
    I’m much more demanding in my own writing, though often a lot of it ends up removed from the final version – TMI, too much info, interfering with story.
    But don’t get me started on the TV Tudors …!
    Susan

    Reply
  135. Nicola, so true about having one approach as a reader or a viewer, and another as a writer. I tend to be very forgiving if I enjoy a film or a book – full accuracy not always required if the story is powerful and creates a strong sense of history and character.
    I’m much more demanding in my own writing, though often a lot of it ends up removed from the final version – TMI, too much info, interfering with story.
    But don’t get me started on the TV Tudors …!
    Susan

    Reply
  136. LOL, Susan, about The Tudors!
    Yes, absolutely, it’s a skill not to let too many historical facts bog down a great story. I’ve read a number of books that have sunk under the sheer weight of research. They were impeccably accurate but this is fiction.
    Forgot to add too that history is not static so what is accurate at one time can become inaccurate as a result of further research. A great example of this cropped up a few weeks ago when historians announced that the site of the Battle of Bosworth had been found and it wasn’t where they thought it was! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm

    Reply
  137. LOL, Susan, about The Tudors!
    Yes, absolutely, it’s a skill not to let too many historical facts bog down a great story. I’ve read a number of books that have sunk under the sheer weight of research. They were impeccably accurate but this is fiction.
    Forgot to add too that history is not static so what is accurate at one time can become inaccurate as a result of further research. A great example of this cropped up a few weeks ago when historians announced that the site of the Battle of Bosworth had been found and it wasn’t where they thought it was! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm

    Reply
  138. LOL, Susan, about The Tudors!
    Yes, absolutely, it’s a skill not to let too many historical facts bog down a great story. I’ve read a number of books that have sunk under the sheer weight of research. They were impeccably accurate but this is fiction.
    Forgot to add too that history is not static so what is accurate at one time can become inaccurate as a result of further research. A great example of this cropped up a few weeks ago when historians announced that the site of the Battle of Bosworth had been found and it wasn’t where they thought it was! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm

    Reply
  139. LOL, Susan, about The Tudors!
    Yes, absolutely, it’s a skill not to let too many historical facts bog down a great story. I’ve read a number of books that have sunk under the sheer weight of research. They were impeccably accurate but this is fiction.
    Forgot to add too that history is not static so what is accurate at one time can become inaccurate as a result of further research. A great example of this cropped up a few weeks ago when historians announced that the site of the Battle of Bosworth had been found and it wasn’t where they thought it was! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm

    Reply
  140. LOL, Susan, about The Tudors!
    Yes, absolutely, it’s a skill not to let too many historical facts bog down a great story. I’ve read a number of books that have sunk under the sheer weight of research. They were impeccably accurate but this is fiction.
    Forgot to add too that history is not static so what is accurate at one time can become inaccurate as a result of further research. A great example of this cropped up a few weeks ago when historians announced that the site of the Battle of Bosworth had been found and it wasn’t where they thought it was! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/8329251.stm

    Reply
  141. Moving Bosworth field – that’s fascinating! Now they’ll have to film the first Blackadder episode all over again (btw, that series is an example of a brillant use of inaccuracies!).
    But you make such a good point – this sort of thing is a true dilemma for historians as well as writers of historical fiction. One advantage I had in writing Lady Macbeth was all the lovely, solid research and advancements done by historians in the past 15 years or so – if I’d written it before then, I wouldn’t have had nearly the info to draw from!
    Susan

    Reply
  142. Moving Bosworth field – that’s fascinating! Now they’ll have to film the first Blackadder episode all over again (btw, that series is an example of a brillant use of inaccuracies!).
    But you make such a good point – this sort of thing is a true dilemma for historians as well as writers of historical fiction. One advantage I had in writing Lady Macbeth was all the lovely, solid research and advancements done by historians in the past 15 years or so – if I’d written it before then, I wouldn’t have had nearly the info to draw from!
    Susan

    Reply
  143. Moving Bosworth field – that’s fascinating! Now they’ll have to film the first Blackadder episode all over again (btw, that series is an example of a brillant use of inaccuracies!).
    But you make such a good point – this sort of thing is a true dilemma for historians as well as writers of historical fiction. One advantage I had in writing Lady Macbeth was all the lovely, solid research and advancements done by historians in the past 15 years or so – if I’d written it before then, I wouldn’t have had nearly the info to draw from!
    Susan

    Reply
  144. Moving Bosworth field – that’s fascinating! Now they’ll have to film the first Blackadder episode all over again (btw, that series is an example of a brillant use of inaccuracies!).
    But you make such a good point – this sort of thing is a true dilemma for historians as well as writers of historical fiction. One advantage I had in writing Lady Macbeth was all the lovely, solid research and advancements done by historians in the past 15 years or so – if I’d written it before then, I wouldn’t have had nearly the info to draw from!
    Susan

    Reply
  145. Moving Bosworth field – that’s fascinating! Now they’ll have to film the first Blackadder episode all over again (btw, that series is an example of a brillant use of inaccuracies!).
    But you make such a good point – this sort of thing is a true dilemma for historians as well as writers of historical fiction. One advantage I had in writing Lady Macbeth was all the lovely, solid research and advancements done by historians in the past 15 years or so – if I’d written it before then, I wouldn’t have had nearly the info to draw from!
    Susan

    Reply
  146. I love historical fiction but it has to be researched well and as accurate as possible. If it doesn’t sound believable I lose interest in the story.
    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

    Reply
  147. I love historical fiction but it has to be researched well and as accurate as possible. If it doesn’t sound believable I lose interest in the story.
    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

    Reply
  148. I love historical fiction but it has to be researched well and as accurate as possible. If it doesn’t sound believable I lose interest in the story.
    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

    Reply
  149. I love historical fiction but it has to be researched well and as accurate as possible. If it doesn’t sound believable I lose interest in the story.
    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

    Reply
  150. I love historical fiction but it has to be researched well and as accurate as possible. If it doesn’t sound believable I lose interest in the story.
    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

    Reply
  151. Susan, I agree with your earlier comment about the mores being more important that the historical accuracy. The recent batch of historical romanaces that I read were so out of character for the times I had a hard time finishing them. I concur about premarital sex but also marriages outside of one’s class were just not done; especially a maid with a lord! Reading Jane Austen or Thackeray again before starting should be compulsory for all regency authors. The ruin of Lydia and by extension her whole family just by running away with Wickham shows how tight those societal rules really were.
    As for the historical elements, as long as the major events are referenced like Waterloo and Princess Charlotte’s death then other aspects of story telling are fair game.

    Reply
  152. Susan, I agree with your earlier comment about the mores being more important that the historical accuracy. The recent batch of historical romanaces that I read were so out of character for the times I had a hard time finishing them. I concur about premarital sex but also marriages outside of one’s class were just not done; especially a maid with a lord! Reading Jane Austen or Thackeray again before starting should be compulsory for all regency authors. The ruin of Lydia and by extension her whole family just by running away with Wickham shows how tight those societal rules really were.
    As for the historical elements, as long as the major events are referenced like Waterloo and Princess Charlotte’s death then other aspects of story telling are fair game.

    Reply
  153. Susan, I agree with your earlier comment about the mores being more important that the historical accuracy. The recent batch of historical romanaces that I read were so out of character for the times I had a hard time finishing them. I concur about premarital sex but also marriages outside of one’s class were just not done; especially a maid with a lord! Reading Jane Austen or Thackeray again before starting should be compulsory for all regency authors. The ruin of Lydia and by extension her whole family just by running away with Wickham shows how tight those societal rules really were.
    As for the historical elements, as long as the major events are referenced like Waterloo and Princess Charlotte’s death then other aspects of story telling are fair game.

    Reply
  154. Susan, I agree with your earlier comment about the mores being more important that the historical accuracy. The recent batch of historical romanaces that I read were so out of character for the times I had a hard time finishing them. I concur about premarital sex but also marriages outside of one’s class were just not done; especially a maid with a lord! Reading Jane Austen or Thackeray again before starting should be compulsory for all regency authors. The ruin of Lydia and by extension her whole family just by running away with Wickham shows how tight those societal rules really were.
    As for the historical elements, as long as the major events are referenced like Waterloo and Princess Charlotte’s death then other aspects of story telling are fair game.

    Reply
  155. Susan, I agree with your earlier comment about the mores being more important that the historical accuracy. The recent batch of historical romanaces that I read were so out of character for the times I had a hard time finishing them. I concur about premarital sex but also marriages outside of one’s class were just not done; especially a maid with a lord! Reading Jane Austen or Thackeray again before starting should be compulsory for all regency authors. The ruin of Lydia and by extension her whole family just by running away with Wickham shows how tight those societal rules really were.
    As for the historical elements, as long as the major events are referenced like Waterloo and Princess Charlotte’s death then other aspects of story telling are fair game.

    Reply
  156. I agree that a good story has a certain dynamic that mere details, be they historical or mythical, does not have. If the mystique is there, and the actual historical impact, I am very happy to be given characters I can identify with, events that are meaningful and dynamic, and even outcomes that underline the thematic intent. So write away, and I will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply
  157. I agree that a good story has a certain dynamic that mere details, be they historical or mythical, does not have. If the mystique is there, and the actual historical impact, I am very happy to be given characters I can identify with, events that are meaningful and dynamic, and even outcomes that underline the thematic intent. So write away, and I will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply
  158. I agree that a good story has a certain dynamic that mere details, be they historical or mythical, does not have. If the mystique is there, and the actual historical impact, I am very happy to be given characters I can identify with, events that are meaningful and dynamic, and even outcomes that underline the thematic intent. So write away, and I will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply
  159. I agree that a good story has a certain dynamic that mere details, be they historical or mythical, does not have. If the mystique is there, and the actual historical impact, I am very happy to be given characters I can identify with, events that are meaningful and dynamic, and even outcomes that underline the thematic intent. So write away, and I will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply
  160. I agree that a good story has a certain dynamic that mere details, be they historical or mythical, does not have. If the mystique is there, and the actual historical impact, I am very happy to be given characters I can identify with, events that are meaningful and dynamic, and even outcomes that underline the thematic intent. So write away, and I will enjoy. Thanks!

    Reply

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