Creative Writing as a Tool of Sustained Ignorance, by Will Pooley

The prohibition against outright invention is a shibboleth of historical professionalism. Perhaps one of the most useful tools historians can learn from creative writers is how to make things up, writes Will Pooley. I’m not arguing in favour of anything like what George R.R. Martin recently called ‘fake’ or ‘imaginary’ history. When historians present histories … Continue reading Creative Writing as a Tool of Sustained Ignorance, by Will Pooley

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The Fact That Engenders, by Kim Sherwood

Virginia Woolf, writing about the art of biography in 1927, argued that ‘[b]y telling us the true facts, by sifting the little from the big, and shaping the whole so that we perceive the outline, the biographer does more to stimulate the imagination than any poet or novelist save the very greatest.’ As a novelist … Continue reading The Fact That Engenders, by Kim Sherwood

The Living, the Dead and the Very Very Dead: Ethics for Historians by Laura Sangha

Students of history are no strangers to ethics, writes Laura Sangha. Indeed, universities have ethics committees and policies which cover instances where the conduct of research involves the interests and rights of others. For historians, this usually means that they must reflect on the possible repercussions of their research on the living – particularly those … Continue reading The Living, the Dead and the Very Very Dead: Ethics for Historians by Laura Sangha

Historical Fiction and the ‘Pastness’ of the Way People Think, by Mark Hailwood

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post about the story telling techniques that historians use in their writing, writes Mark Hailwood. This was not a long time ago, and nor was it far away – you can read it here in fact. Inspired by the ‘Storying the Past’ reading group, and a series of … Continue reading Historical Fiction and the ‘Pastness’ of the Way People Think, by Mark Hailwood

Blog Series: Creative Writing and History

The third and final event of the 'Creative Histories' series funded by the British Academy in 2017-8 was held in Bristol on 26th January. The event brought together historians and creative writers to talk about shared challenges as well as a disagreements, and finished with a talk from Kate Summerscale, author of a series of … Continue reading Blog Series: Creative Writing and History

Erika Hanna, ‘The Politics of Creativity’

What are the politics of creative histories? Are they radical or conservative? Across the three days of the conference I really enjoyed listening to the huge wealth of research and expertise, and discovering new and beautiful histories which often displayed a disarming novelty and sensitivity. But I really wanted to think through the question of … Continue reading Erika Hanna, ‘The Politics of Creativity’

Cheryl Morgan, ‘The Objectivity Trap’

In the wrap up session for Creative Histories we talked quite a lot about the question, “Who gets to be creative?”, writes Cheryl Morgan. That is obviously a major issue for the conference, but from my point of view a more pressing question is, “Who gets to do history?” That’s important because it can determine … Continue reading Cheryl Morgan, ‘The Objectivity Trap’

Kate Summerscale in conversation 26th January 2018

We are very excited to announce that as part of the series of events in 2017-8 on the theme of 'Creative Histories', the author Kate Summerscale will be appearing live in conversation. And we are looking for questions from you! What would you most like to know about writing historical creative non-fiction? We welcome any … Continue reading Kate Summerscale in conversation 26th January 2018

John Reeks, ‘Creative History Needs a Better Name’

I’m not lying: no, this is a creative history. I went to this conference believing that ‘creative history’ is a contradiction in terms: I remain firmly convinced of that view, writes John Reeks. By definition, creativity requires outside-of-the-box thinking and a willingness to tear up the rulebook. History, meanwhile, is a rules-based discipline. Historians are bound … Continue reading John Reeks, ‘Creative History Needs a Better Name’

Lucie Dutton, ‘Maurice Elvey, a Film about Nelson and Quilting my Research’

In 1918, British director Maurice Elvey made a film about Admiral Lord Nelson, a film he had planned for five years. My research into this film and its production history led to a series of quite unexpected quilting projects, which are described on my blog: http://www.isthereroomformetosew.com I’ve been researching Elvey for the last decade, as … Continue reading Lucie Dutton, ‘Maurice Elvey, a Film about Nelson and Quilting my Research’