This one-day workshop, open to all authors or budding authors, will show how to research the history behind historical fiction, with detailed guidance on using published works of history, finding and employing primary source materials and getting the most from libraries, archives, museums and art galleries.
Getting to know other times and other places well enough to describe them convincingly is one of the great pleasures of writing historical fiction, but also one of its greatest challenges. Anyone can achieve a basic feel for an age by reading published histories, but to go beyond this, to enter the mental and physical world of the inhabitants of another age, to see through their eyes, to touch the objects that they knew and to speak with their voices, requires detailed knowledge and the understanding that can come only from autonomous research. Above all, it helps to know and understand contemporary source materials, but to find and use these requires specialised skills.
This one-day workshop aims to encourage writers to develop their abilities as historical researchers, introducing the tools and techniques employed by academic historians, and showing how to get the most from libraries, archives, museums, art galleries and, of course, the internet. Teaching will take place in an informal format with participants actively encouraged to discuss the problems they encounter and to share their own experiences. Themes covered will include:
- Using published histories
- Finding primary sources online, in libraries and in the archive
- The historical backdrop: wars, revolutions, great events and what’s in the news
- Households, material culture and the things of everyday life
- Capturing localities and neighbourhoods with local sources and newspapers
- The price of fish: how much should things cost, how long should travel take and other tricky questions
The workshop will take place between 10.30 and 17.00 at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, located in Senate House. A sandwich lunch will be provided; please mention any special dietary needs on your application. As numbers are strictly limited early application is advised.
The course is open to authors, budding authors and anyone with an interest in historical fiction. Although all periods and areas will be covered, most of our examples will come broadly from the late medieval and early modern period and from the British Isles.