Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bits and pieces of historical fiction news

Yesterday afternoon, Maggie O'Farrell's historical novel Hamnet took home the Women's Prize for Fiction.  It was published in the UK by Tinder Press (cover image at left) and in the US by Knopf; in Canada, the title is Hamnet and Judith.  I've read it, and it's a deserving winner. Set in Shakespeare's England, the playwright is never named, but the story movingly observes the relationships between Agnes, a wise woman in 16th-century Warwickshire; her husband, a glovemaker's son; and their three children, including twins Hamnet and Judith.  Hamnet will die at age 11, an event which devastates each of the family members, who express their sorrow in different ways.

Also in the UK, Melissa Oliver won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award, which celebrates new writers, for her debut historical romance The Rebel Heiress and the Knight (Harlequin/Mills and Boon).

Historical novelist Susanne Dunlap has a new podcast series, It's Just Historical. Each episode contains an interview with an author or other personality in the historical fiction community, including C. W. Gortner (The First Actress), Christina Baker Kline (The Exiles), Kris Waldherr (The Lost History of Dreams), and many more.

The BBC's Books section has a feature article, The Strange World of the Royal Family, in which Hephzibah Anderson speaks to two historical novelists, Wendy Holden (The Royal Governess/The Governess) and Clare McHugh (A Most English Princess) about their new works of fiction.  Holden focuses on Marion Crawford "Crawfie," the governess for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret during their childhood, while McHugh's subject is Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, who became Empress of Germany.

Wendy Holden also has an article for Read It Forward on the must-haves of good historical fiction.

Sarah Penner's The Lost Apothecary (Park Row, March) will be one to watch for next winter. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, she speaks about the background to her debut, which delves into female power, lethal poisons, and mystery in Georgian London.

For Writer Unboxed, Liza Nash Taylor expresses what it's like to be a debut novelist at 60. Her novel Etiquette for Runaways (Blackstone, Aug.) is set in the Jazz Age of the 1920s.

Rebecca D'Harlingue (The Lines Between Us, set in the late 15th century and today) tells How to Do World Building Right in Historical Fiction for Writers' Digest.

And Parade Magazine has fall historical fiction recommendations from 12 other historical novelists with new books out.


  1. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing my essay!

    1. My pleasure! Sorry about Blogger not recording your name - I've been having problems with the software lately.

  2. Thanks for this great list of interesting articles. I really want to read Hamnet now. And I've added thé podcast to my list.

    1. Hope you also enjoy reading Hamnet. I thought it provided a new view of Anne Hathaway - called Agnes in this novel (for historical reasons).

      Thanks for your comments. I enjoy reading your blog!