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History and Fiction


History and Fiction.

Forthcoming Events

Margaret Drabble, in conversation with Caroline Steedman, 14 October 2015, 4.30-6.15 pm

Past Events

4.30pm - 6.30pm
Wednesday 14th January

Stella Tillyard
Independent scholar and writer, author of Aristocrats (1994 biography, won the History Today Award), Citizen Lord (1998 biography), A Royal Affair (2006 history), Tides of War (2011 novel)

will speak on:

History and the Historical Novel
What is the historical novel for and what can it do when we now have such good accessible history?
with discussant

Lizzie Collingham
Associate Fellow at the University of Warwick, independent scholar and writer, author of Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, and The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome. We hope you will be able to join us.

History Research Seminar Series convened by Professor Maxine Berg.

Drama/Fiction/History: Writers in Discussion with Historians
5pm-6:30pm, 5 June 2014, Wolfson Research Exchange, University of Warwick

Staff and students are welcome to attend an informal discussion with three writers who draw extensively on history in their literary and dramatic writing. Are the objectives of historians and writers and their attitudes to historical reality very different? Are the ‘truths’ they seek to convey comparable?

‘The writer of romance is to be considered as the writer of real history; while he who was formerly called the historian, must be contented to step down into the place of his rival... True history consists in a delineation of consistent, human character, in a display of the manner in which such a character acts under successive circumstances, in showing how character increases and assimilates new substances to its own, and how it decays, together with the catastrophe into which by its own gravity it naturally declines.’ Godwin, ‘Of History and Romance.’

The panellists are:

  • Rebecca Abrams whose non-fiction work includes Woman in a Man’s World, The Playful Self, and When Parents Die. Her novel Touching Distance is set in the 1790s in Scotland and concerns the practices of medicine in relation to childbirth.
  • Helen Edmundson is a British playwright known for her adaptation of literary classics for the stage and for her historical dramas, including The Clearing set in Ireland in the 1650s; The Heresy of Love, portraying the life of the poet and nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in 17th C Mexico; and Mary Shelley, a study of the vexed family and political dynamics of the Godwin and Shelley households between 184 and 1816.
  • Kat Montagu is a visitor to the IAS. She began her career as a story editor and edits 2-3 feature screenplays every year. She has written many feature screenplays, one-hour TV pilots, published magazine articles, and short films. She is currently working on a novel set in the late 17th Century.

Copies of these texts can be borrowed from Tracy Smith, Department of History. Touching Distance is published by Pan Macmillan and is widely available in paperback, and Helen Edmundson’s plays are available from Nick Hern Books ( A chapter of Kat Montagu’s novel will be pre-circulated to those registering.

Please also see the conference poster.