Saturday, 16 February 2008

Funny Stuff and Bookish Snippets

An Archbishop of Canterbury Tale from Iowahawk.

That "wickedly subversive" Cambridge don, Mary Beard, reveals her next writing project: What Made The Romans Laugh.

What makes historians think they're qualified to write historical fiction? Joel Rickett in The Guardian reports that increasing numbers of academics are doing just that.

James Holland, The Burning Blue and A Pair of Silver Wings
Alison Weir, Innocent Traitor, The Lady Elizabeth
Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sashenka (Perhaps he got some handy tips from wife Santa Montefiore, who writes historical romances)
Katie Hickman, The Aviary Gate
Stella Tillyard, famous for the bestselling Aristocrats, has sold two historical novels, the first of which will be published in 2010.

Perhaps it's because the most popular historical non-fiction these days is being written by historians who know how to tell a good story with vividly drawn characters and convincing settings. As long as they resist the temptation to weigh down their fiction with a burden of historical detail, they should add greatly to the gaiety of (reading) nations. Which is more than can be said for this recent crop of hapless historicals (unless the reviewer is one of those snooty types who thinks historical fiction is all rather rubbish).

And then of course there's the mega-selling Philippa Gregory who has a history degree and published her first historical novel around the same time as she got her PhD in 18th-century literature. Here she is in The Times on how her novel The Other Boleyn Girl got the Hollywood treatment.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Sashenka sounds like another for the TBR pile, sigh. I find it hard to track UK-pubbed historicals because so many are categorized (as was this one) in Amazon as "modern fiction."

I wasn't sure whether to believe the Telegraph reviewer's opinions on those four historicals. I'll probably buy Godiva and judge for myself on that one, but Lion and the Rose is, indeed, as poorly written as he describes.