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What’s so great about historical fiction?

It can feel like a waste of time looking at stuff you don’t understand. That’s no way to spend a holiday. So how do you figure out what to see in advance? Choose a period, location or historical figure that interests you, and start reading related fictional stories that are based on historical fact. Following in the footsteps of a famous historical figure whose story you know is thrilling: walking through the same palaces and gardens where they once strolled, gazing at the same ceilings as they did, tasting similar flavours, and hearing their language. All this greatly enhances the fun, meaning and discovery of travel. The names of places, buildings, and related art will start to gather in significance and knowing the stories behind them brings a richer understanding and context for everything else that you’ll be seeing.

Each post below is tagged by period, location settings, and historical figures, which you can click to focus on what interests you.

What exactly is historical fiction?

Historical fiction takes the facts of history and re-creates scenes and characters to give a richer context to sites you may visit and to tell a fuller story that is more relatable than just the dry facts. Stories stir your imagination and feed your soul.

Where women are concerned, the challenge is greater, as authors often need to pull together a variety of sources to fill in areas that are undocumented. Relying on surviving letters, journals, and legal and household records, they weave together disparate events to create a compelling portrait of a character, place and time. Sometimes they take poetic license and embroider the facts or shift the time and place slightly, but most authors pride themselves on using validated records as their foundation and noting where they stray from the historical record.