Historical dramas- and historical fiction- are always fun. The costumes! The hair! The sets! They are a beauty to watch and make us feel like we have stepped into their world, a fly on the wall to past intimate moments.
This is the flaw in imagining the past. There was no fly on the wall. We may have accounts from eavesdroppers, but they are few and far between. The farther back we look, the less actual information we have. Most of what remains is household account books. Personal letters and journals of contemporary chroniclers are rarer. We can use contemporary or slightly-after literary works to catch a glimpse of what their attitudes and opinions were. For example Shakespeare’s plays give us insight into the popular opinion of the late Tudor court.
A writer who claims that what they create is the perfect truth is lying, or has an ego too large to admit to themselves that they’re perspective is just that-theirs. It may temporarily gain an audience, but the harm they do to actual historical research is long-reaching, as such opinion-as-fact can last a generation after its conception.
I love fictionalized history. As a child and a teen I read stories of made-up courtiers in Elizabeth I’s court. When the movies “Dangerous Beauty,” and “Elizabeth I” came out when I was in high school, I ran to the theater and became obsessed with the fashions, watching them over and over again when they came out on video. In my early 20s I learned of Katherine Swynford through Anya Seton’s work; as flawed as it was, it remains one of my favorite books today. Philippa Gregory, Suzannah Dunn, Jean Plaidy, Posie Graeme-Evans – I read as much as I could. The fictional work of Alison Weir I devoured like candy. These fictional works grabbed my interest so much that I signed up for Tudor-Stewart England in college. Learning a little of the real history turned my interest away from Egypt and ancient history, so that I became ravenously obsessed with the history of England. Each new novel encouraged me to read actual texts on the subjects, and my mind quickly compared the stories to the truth.
This is the aim of this blog. I wish to dissect our modern fictional accounts, to search and report on the known history. Some will be easy for me- I already do this with, say, “The Tudors” or “White Queen,” but there are many more fictional accounts out there, both books and films as well as television. Some of what I do will be reviews, some will be comparison and others will be contrasts. I hope to entertain, but also to encourage audiences to start researching for themselves.
It may be surprising to learn that I actually an American. Here in the U.S. we are discouraged from focusing on Medieval and Renaissance British history, as there are very limited job opportunities in academia for us. As my obsession can’t be quenched, I am bucking academic expectations and following my heart to study and focus on what inspires me.
I am currently finishing my Bachelors in World History at Arizona State University, and have an Associates degree in Visual and Performing Arts-Music Concentration. Though I am disabled from a neurological problem, I continue to play and teach the violin as much as I can, and I make rosaries which I sell online through Etsy. I live in Connecticut with my husband, two cats named Prima and Stormy, and a dog named Juliet. I am working on a novel about Henry VII’s time in exile from 1471 to 1485, in my available time.