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What is historical fiction

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Boleyn girl
Philippa Gregory writes historical fiction
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Historical fiction is what an author creates with real events and make-believe

Fiction means that the contents of a book are made up. They are not true. The author created the story.

Fiction is the exact opposite of non-fiction. Non-fiction is factual.

Historical fiction is a story created by the author that is not true but is based upon events that happened in the past, such as the Civil War or World War II. Often historical fiction includes real historical persons, such as Abraham Lincoln, but the main characters in the story are fictional.

Historical fiction is a very popular genre because many readers are interested in historical events.

Pigeonholing the exact definition of historical fiction isnít easy because there is some disagreement.

Writing historical fiction requires a lot of research on the part of the author in an effort to present a genuine portrayal of the time he is writing about. Furthermore, the author has to be aware of how characters spoke in such and such era, what they wore or ate, what their homes were like and other specific mannerisms and behaviors that are specific to a certain time in the past. When writing historical fiction, the writer weaves historical facts in with his own imagination.

The author of historical fiction has artistic license to present a point of view from his fictional characters regarding a certain time in history, which has not been recorded in actual history books. At times, the author opts to alter the places in the book or the names of people in some way and is free to do so as long as the author doesnít diverge in a big way from what is known to be established history.

The historical fiction writer attempts to stay as close to the truth as possible and often focuses on the characters in the book who are living in a particular time and situation rather than the situation itself, although obviously, the circumstances are a very critical part of the story. Otherwise, the writer would choose to write fiction that is not historical and save himself hours and hours of research.

To qualify as historical fiction, a book must be set more than 50 years in the past and is written by someone who has thoroughly researched the topic and is not writing from personal experience.

However, consider F. Scott Fitzgeraldís book The Great Gatsby. It was written in 1925 about 1925 so we presently consider it historical fiction but it wasnít to begin with so is it or isnít it historical fiction?

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a wonderful example of historical fiction although some will argue that it is a romance novel, which it is, but the backdrop of the Civil War is the heart of this novel.

While the antics of Scarlet OíHara and her cohorts are certainly compelling, the readers learn a wealth of information about the Civil War, plantations, slavery, Atlanta and the aftermath of the war. Itís a fun way to learn about history. Even though Scarlet never existed there were surely many southern belles in existence who were very much like her and experienced similar circumstances.

Other historical novels that are fiction, but may not be considered by some as typical historical fiction, include, to name just two, Anita Diamantís The Red Tent, which is set in Biblical times, and Cold Mountain, which was turned into a movie starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Rene Zellweger, written by Charles Frazier, and which deals with the Civil War and the women left behind to fend for themselves while their men were away.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a book about Anne Boleyn's sister Mary and this is considered historical fiction and is quite fascinating. It was written by Philippa Gregory.

Historical fiction has many avid readers. Some readers of historical fiction consider themselves "students" of the genre. Unlike many other types of writing, historical fiction often invites the input of its fans. Those who read historical fiction want it to be accurate and if they find an inaccuracy they will certainly let the author know about it.

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