History and Historical fiction have been together since the ancients. The historical fiction writer reads history books, historical documents, and other material to assist him in creating a historic background for his characters and incorporates past events into his stories.
For instance, if the author is writing about a character that has just arrived in America before the American Revolution, this character could participate in historic events like the battle of Breeds Hill or the famous ride of Paul Revere.
One fine example of this type of historical novel is, The Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes. The first book of this series follows the life of Philippe Charbonneau in his travels from France to England, then on to America, where he meets and interacts with historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and Lord North.
He becomes involved with the patriots and their cause. The series continues by following Philippe's family as they become involved in the events of American history.
The Author, John Jakes researched the past by reading first hands accounts of events, and books about the topic. After this preparation, he incorporated actual events into his novels to give his characters life and a sense of purpose. This series of novels will assist you in understanding how history and literature work together to create a novel that is interesting and educational.
John Jakes is but one of countless authors who have studied history and included past events in their works. Among the better known authors include,William Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe, and Jonathan Swift.
Each of these authors have incorporated history in their works to give a background to their characters and present their ideas and beliefs to the reading public.
Look at these literary works for learning more about history through literature.
- History as Literature
This book was written in 1913 by Theodore Roosevelt in 1913. He describes for us his ideas on how to treat history.
- King Henry V
This play by Shakespeare is about the life of King Henry of England.
- History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
This great literary work by Edward Gibbon combines history and literary style nicely. This is a listing of web sites where you can download the complete text.
- Robinson Crusoe
Defoe based his work on the adventures of Alexander Selkirk.