There’s been a lot going on today. Starting with Elizabeth Chadwick’s research into why readers of historical fiction enjoy the genre conversation moved onto questions of why academic history is perceived to not be able to recreate the human condition adequately. We then heard from Justin Champion, Tracey Loughran and Peter Straus. In these papers, amongst much else, the issue of e-book readers came up and in other conversations the rise of the internet was discussed as revolutionising the communication and interaction between author and reader.
It seems that historical fiction is regarded as a popular form of writing and reading about the past, leaving academic history failing somewhat in its targets for impact! However, the inter-relationship of the two are time and again shown to be strong – one could not survive without the other. I suspect we’ll return to that topic tomorrow as we look at the differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic history.
Elsewhere, Jenny Benham’s book review focused on Swedish historical fiction is a gentle and much welcome reminder that in this conference so far we have largely talked about British and perhaps a little American historical fiction. What about elsewhere? It would be great to see if anyone else has any views on non-English historical fiction!
We also presented our first short article today – a study on the technique of Penelope Fitzgerald by the IHR’s Jonathan Blaney. Has anyone got any thoughts about what Jonathan has to say? We’d love to hear them.
Finally, don’t forget to take part in our competition – just tell us about your favourite piece of historical fiction and what impact it has made on you.
Tomorrow we’ll hear from Maria Margaronis, Ian Mortimer, Beverley Southgate, and Rebecca Stott. We’ll also have the usual mix of book reviews, articles, opinions, and announcements.