Getting to know other times and other places well enough to describe them convincingly is one of the great pleasures of writing historical fiction, but also one of its greatest challenges. Anyone can achieve a basic feel for an age by reading published histories, but to go beyond this, to enter the mental and physical world of the inhabitants of another age, to see through their eyes, to touch the objects that they knew and to speak with their voices, requires detailed knowledge and the understanding that can come only from autonomous research. Above all, it helps to know and understand contemporary source materials, but to find and use these requires specialised skills.
This one-day workshop aims to encourage writers to develop their abilities as historical researchers, introducing the tools and techniques employed by academic historians, and showing how to get the most from libraries, archives, museums, art galleries and, of course, the internet. Teaching will take place in an informal format with participants actively encouraged to discuss the problems they encounter and to share their own experiences.
Contributing to the workshop will be: Elizabeth Chadwick, author of The Time of Singing, To Defy a King and many others; Eleanor John, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the Geffrye Museum of the Home; Dr Simon Trafford, Research Training Officer at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
It will take place between 10.30 and 17.00 on Thursday 26th April 2012 at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, located in Senate House. As numbers are strictly limited early application is advised.
For full details and instructions on how to apply please click here.
Welcome to the Novel Approaches site. Here you will find podcasted lectures from the Novel Approaches conference; book reviews and articles by historians and historical novelists; opinion pieces; bibliographies and lists of online resources. Please feel free to join the discussion and enjoy the site! For more information about this site click here.
Although the virtual confernece has ended this site will remain up indefinately and we would love it if it is continued to be used as a place for discussion and viewing.
Novel Approaches Newsletters:
Novel Approaches newsletter issue 1 (November 2011)
Novel Approaches newsletter issue 2 (Dec 2011)
September 2012 – Historical Novel Society’s 2012 conference:
We have collected various opinions from staff who work in the IHR about what historical fiction means to them. What is their favourite historical novel and why? How do they view fictional writings when researching the past?
During the week following the conference we also ran a competiton for visitors to tell us their opinions. These can be found in the comments sections as you scroll down this page.
These podcasts derive from the Novel Approaches conference held between 17 and 18 November 2011 at the Institute of Historical Research. They can also be found on the History SPOT website where we also have video editions available. Each podcast is approximatesly 15-20 minutes in length. You can either click on the links for each lecture or scroll down this page.
Please feel free to join the discussion!
David Loades and Hilary Mantel in discussion
The popularity of historical fiction
Elizabeth Chadwick Justin Champion
Tracey Loughran Peter Straus
The differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic history
Maria Margaronis Ian Mortimer
Beverley Southgate Rebecca Stott
Does the success of historical fiction benefit or threaten academic history?
Jackie Eales Cora Kaplan
Paul Lay Stella Tillyard
For more information about this site see the links below or scroll down the page.
To join the discussion (how to add comments)
Highlights (explains more about this site’s content)
Bibliography & Online resources (explanation of our resources section)
Suggestions Box (let us know what you think of the site)
For an index to content as it was uploaded please see our conference programme or hover your mouse over the About tab at the top of the page to see a list of each days content and to take part in our online survey (please feel free to give us your feedback).
All good novels have an end; indeed the ending can make or break a reader’s enjoyment of an entire work. Academic histories however tend to avoid an ending; they see themselves as one point in a long line of books focused on that topic of research. I guess a virtual conference is somewhat similar to the historian’s task, at least more so than the novelist’s.
This tale (we hope) will continue. Although this is the end as far as our part of the story is concerned it is only the beginning of what we hope will become a valuable resource to novelists, historians and scholars of various interests. The Novel Approaches site will remain online for as long as wordpress (our domain host) will provide for it, as will the oppotunity to continue the discussion around these resources.
Those same resources will also appear on our other websites: the book reviews can also be found on Reviews in History; the lectures on History SPOT. In addition we hope to bring some video highlights from the conference to you in the near future. So stay tuned!
All there remains for us to do then is to say a very big thank you to all of you who have participated in our virtual conference. The IHR Digital team, publications and event management very much hope that you enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) your time here.
If you have enjoyed our conference then it might be worth noting that there is a Historical Novel Society Conference in the works for 2012. The conference will take place at the University of Westminster (Regent Street site) on the 29th and 30th September. As well as booksellers, agents and editors / publishers they are expecting the following authors (among others) – Bernard Cornwell, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sarah Dunant, Barbara Erskine, C.J. Sansom and Sarah Waters – plus the Napoleonic Association in full uniform!
In the meantime if you would like to make a suggestion for future events (or to let us know what you thought about our virtual conference) please do so in the Suggestions section of this site or on our end of conference survey. We’d love to hear from you. Also don’t forget to let us know if you like the idea of a workshop on how to use historical research for writing fiction.
At the beginning of the week we set up a competition. We asked you to write a short piece about what your favorite historical novel is (why? and, if applicable, how this has influenced your thoughts on academic history?).
We are now very pleased to announce the winners of this competition:
£25 Amazon book vouchers Susan Beaumont (click here for the entry)
1 year subscription to the IHR journal Historical Research Jody Allen (click here for the entry)
We will be in touch with the winners at the beginning of next week regarding their prize. Well done!
And thank you to everyone who took part.