History is never innocent.
History is never innocent. Writers who write history (and don’t all writers write history, since as soon as we write down our words they become part of the past?) are never innocent of their own history. The long ago past, yes, but never our own.
I’ve spent most of my writing life focused on the Tudors, more specifically Tudor women, too often left voiceless by a history written by male victors. Generally, the lives of these women are simply footnotes to history, which is why I am passionate about giving them voice and opening up the door to their lives.
Men, of course, play an important and necessary role in my stories – how could they not when women’s lives in the Tudor period were so controlled and determined by fathers, husbands, brothers and sons. My interest centres on what happens to women because of this control, the consequences, the cause and effect, and how it shapes my characters. I also write for reasons similarly to authors like Umberto Eco, a man who searched for meaning through writing all his life (Eco 2016).
Can a writer separate themselves from their socio-historic context? I believe you can, to a degree. When I enter my imagined construction of the past it means going into period mindset. Well, my illusion of period mindset. I enjoy the challenge of portraying history – which means keeping on guard that my own socio-historic context doesn’t invade my Tudor world building. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I am one of those historical writers who need step into their imagined historical world so they can write it. To do this well, I have to separate myself from my own socio-historic context, otherwise I’d risk putting costumes on what are really modern characters.
I try hard to understand my characters, their beliefs and values, and their motivations. If I understand my characters, I believe my readers will understand them too.
Pacitti, D 2003, Reading reality and Umberto Eco, viewed 29 August 2016, <http://www.justbookreviews.net/Reading_reality.htm>.