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Saturday, February 05, 2011


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I'm getting a bit behind with this series, but enjoying it still. I'm here at part 7.

I was interested by your comments regarding the usefulness of well-researched historical novels. Generally I prefer historical novels in which real historical characters are in the background, such as Sansom's Shardlake series, to those in which real people from the past take centre stage. Having said that, Bernard Cornwell is very good at what he does, and the less known information there is about a figure from history the greater the need to employ the historical imagination. Where evidence is in short supply even the most cautious academics, some of whom may be critical of their novelist counterparts, are forced to fall back on informed speculation. I will keep an eye out for Cornwell's Saxon series.

On the subject of research, would it be possible to add a list of your key sources to the site? It is always useful to know where writers get their facts from and what might have influenced their opinions.

The History of England

I love the Shardlake novels too; and I agree it is a bit risky to have characters that we recognise, because we tend to have our own image of what they are like. But Cornwell does it brilliantly. And he uses the freedom to speculate that the novelist has, and the historian doesn't have, really weel and intelligently.

I'd be happy to do a bibliography - I'll blog it.


I have just come across you on iTunes. And I've spent many a happy hour in my car listening. There is still much for me to catch up on but I wanted to thank you for a wonderful series.

Laurence Bachmann

Wonderful podcast, which I just began this past week. Much catching up to do. Greatly appreciate your observations about good historical fiction. It's arguable that all history of England from the Roman departure until the Norman Conquest is historical fiction. Or at least historical conjecture. I very much look forward to catching up.

The History of England

Thanks all ! And yes, a very interesting point. It's one of the reason that I love the Anglo Saxon age so much - there is so much room for interpreting the facts in a different way. And the fiction point is particularly true of Alfred, who comes down to us as a veritable paragon - and just possibly maybe perhaps because he controlled so much of what we do know about him. Any way, welcome!

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