The popularity of historical fiction: Justin Champion


Speaker: Justin Champion (Royal Holloway University of London)

How do you define popularity?  For that matter how do you define historical fiction as a genre?  For Justin Champion these are the essential questions that must be asked to understand why historical fiction can be called ‘popular’.


Please see the Podcasts feed for audio files

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About Matt Phillpott

I am an historian of early modern Britain and the Digital Resources Manager at the School of Advanced Study. My main area of interest is in the authentication of knowledge in early print, including religious, historical, and agricultural texts.

4 thoughts on “The popularity of historical fiction: Justin Champion

  1. Justin Champion is talking about potentially different measures of popularity (cheekily lifting criteria from the REF to suggest that some historical novels may score more highly on reach (medieval detective novels) and others on significance (War and Peace) … though I imagine War and Peace has sold a few copies too…

    • Yes, the REF comments were interesting. Is academic history generally too ‘stuffy’ for popular consumption and, even if it is sometimes, does this actually matter? Academic history is after all traditionally about research not impact, but obviously the REF is now changing that. It seems that academic history is now meant to be for popular consumption.

  2. Professor Champion also mentions G. M. Trevelyan, the popular Whig historian, and his interest in the novels of Henry Fielding and Jane Austen – though it seems to me at least that in this sense Trevelyan is not talking about these two as historical novelists, but rather of their novels’ value as sources for the historian…


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