This is not a book on how to write historical fiction. It IS a book on how NOT to write historical fiction.
If you love history and you’re hard at work on your first historical novel, but you’re wondering if your medieval Irishmen would live on potatoes, if your 17th-century pirate would use a revolver, or if your hero would be able to offer Marie-Antoinette a box of chocolate bonbons . . .
(The answer to all these is “Absolutely not!”)
. . . then Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is the book for you.
Medieval Underpants will guide you through the factual mistakes that writers of historical fiction—both beginners and professionals—most often make, and show you how to avoid them. From fictional characters crossing streets that wouldn’t exist for another sixty (or two thousand) years, to South American foods on ancient Roman plates, to 1990s slang in the mouths of 1940s characters, Susanne Alleyn exposes the often hilarious, always painful goofs that turn up most frequently in fiction set in the past.
Alleyn stresses the hazards to writers of assuming too much about details of life in past centuries, providing numerous examples of mistakes that could easily have been avoided. She also explores commonly-confused topics such as the important difference between the British titles “Lord John Smith” and “John, Lord Smith” and why they’re not interchangeable, and provides simple guidelines for getting them right. In a wide assortment of chapters including Food and Plants; Guns; Money; Hygiene; Dialogue; Attitudes; Research; and, of course, Ladies' Underpants, she offers tips on how to avoid errors and anachronisms while continually reminding writers of the necessity of meticulous historical research.
NEW expanded 3rd edition.
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About the Author
Susanne Alleyn has loved history all her life, aided and abetted by her grandmother, Lillie V. Albrecht, an author of historical children's books in the 1950s and 60s. Happy to describe herself as an insufferable knowitall about historical trivia (although she lost on Jeopardy!), Susanne has been writing and researching historical fiction for nearly three decades. She is the author of A Far Better Rest, the reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities (Soho Press, 2000); the four Aristide Ravel Mysteries (St. Martin's Press); and The Executioner's Heir: A Novel of Eighteenth-Century France. Nonfiction includes Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths (2012); A Tale of Two Cities: A Reader's Companion (2014); and The Weirder Side of Paris (2017).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For anyone writing or who loves history this is great for all those unaddressed questions.
This is a terrific reference, a must-read for anyone writing historical fiction of any kind.