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The Tudor Society

Historical Fiction and Accuracy

In today's Claire chats I talk about historical fiction and TV series and discuss whether they should be accurate and whether authors and TV companies have any responsibility to readers and viewers.

There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. K /

    Claire – When did the tudor society launch the “we can read your mind as part of your dues” benefit?!!?! You read my mind and since I’m in the U.S. I wasn’t aware Wolf Hall had been made into a BBC series. I’m was going to ask for a chat about what you believed were the most authentic books, movies, and shows. I listened to Audible’s version of The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo this summer. She spoke about so many different portrayals and tried to make heads or tails of all that is out in the various mediums. She even sites you as a wonderful stalwart for accuracy and how the Anne Boleyn Files site has taken this noble cause to new plateaus. She doesn’t claim to have successfully decoded everything either. I agree with you — and always look to the authors notes myself — case in point Melanie Taylor’s book The Truth In The Line. She is clear that her story line is based on historical characters and her love of art. She says she wants to try and reflect what they might have thought and done, but never claims that she’s speaking for Hilliard and others. What a beautifully crafted story with a historical framework resulted. I learned much about the import of art as gift, brokers in romance, and reward for deeds done well.

    Sadly in our fast paced world many times our authors become known as “experts” and public figures. Then their name connected to portrayals work in the mass media dilutes truths even further with the insertion of dramatic license. “It was on TV, Internet, or at the cinema so it must be true” is such a pervasive problem in our society. Audiences don’t always seek truth and thus their providers entertain them at the expense of historical integrity.

    I like them US show Law and Order approach “ripped from the headlines!” With the disclaimer saying it isn’t about any particular person. As the episode unfolds you know which headline was the skelton for the creative tissue put upon it.

    This of course from a former DC lobbyist and now housewife and mother… I have always valued the works of those before us as sacred….think of the lawsuits for libel Henry, Anne and others could launch of they were around now!

    The good new is as long as they put out inaccuracies you’ll be fully employed!

    Your fan and happy member —

    Kim Carlisle

    1. M /

      Kim, thank you for your lovely comment about The Truth of the Line. Hilliard is such an intriguing character and we cannot know what the events were that led to someone going to him and commissioning a portrait, so anything I have put in the novel is speculation. However, that speculation is based on research into all sorts of documents including the Ps on the from front of the Coram Rege rolls, which is the subject of my article in this month’s magazine. Again, we can only speculate why these images change from the standard monarch sitting on a throne wearing their coronation robes and holding the symbols of justice & mercy. Hopefully, this will go some way to satisfy anybody’s curiosity about Hilliard’s rummaging around in the legal archives and coming across Elizabeth’s change of image in January 1561! (In case you are wondering, we have to take a mind reading test before being part of Claire & Tim’s team)

      I, like Claire, am passionate about historical accuracy in a novel and will be lucky enough to visit the Paris exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII’s great rival, Francis I. Not only will this exhibition include the one that has just finished at the NPG, I will be meeting up with Claire & Tim, and Clare Cherry and her husband. I promise that one of us will be reporting on this visit to Paris. There is also a photographer coming too so we will all be in the photographs (saving Tim much work in photoshopping the various images).

      Wolf Hall will be out on DVD shortly so do get the series. The series was filmed in ‘real’ lighting i.e. the candlelit scenes were filmed using just those candles you see on the screen. The director was criticised for this, but it so adds to the atmosphere. Also, much of the filming was done in places where Henry and Anne met, talked, courted, had rows and finally where she was executed. The authenticity of Peter Kosminky’s direction really makes Mantel’s drama real and I cannot begin to describe the costumes! Understated and wonderful. As for that other male character, Damien Lewis is a really brilliant Henry. I’m not going to say anything about Anne, except I wish she had worn brown contact lenses and that is my only criticism of her. I am sure you will love the series.

      That disclaimer about works of fiction makes the life of a writer slightly less hazardous ! I’ve just written a novel set in the 20th century based on the British government’s ill thought out new planning regulations and how these might might be exploited by unscrupulous developers. It is based on a real case – thank goodness for disclaimers!

    2. M /

      Kim, thank you for your lovely comment about The Truth of the Line. Hilliard is such an intriguing character and we cannot know what the events were that led to someone going to him and commissioning a portrait, so anything I have put in the novel is speculation. However, that speculation is based on research into all sorts of documents including the Ps on the front of the Coram Rege rolls, which is the subject of my article in the March magazine. Again, we can only speculate why these images change from the standard monarch sitting on a throne wearing their coronation robes and holding the symbols of justice & mercy. Hopefully, this will go some way to satisfy anybody’s curiosity about Hilliard’s rummaging around in the legal archives and coming across Elizabeth’s change of image in January 1561! (In case you are wondering, we have to take a mind reading test before being part of Claire & Tim’s team)

      I, like Claire, am passionate about historical accuracy in a novel and will be lucky enough to visit the Paris exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII’s great rival, Francis I. Not only will this exhibition include the one that has just finished at the NPG, I will be meeting up with Claire & Tim, and Clare Cherry and her husband. I promise that one of us will be reporting on this visit to Paris. There is also a photographer coming too so we will all be in the photographs (saving Tim much work in photoshopping the various images).

      Wolf Hall will be out on DVD shortly so do get the series. The series was filmed in ‘real’ lighting i.e. the candlelit scenes were filmed using just those candles you see on the screen. The director was criticised for this, but it so adds to the atmosphere. Also, much of the filming was done in places where Henry and Anne met, talked, courted, had rows and finally where she was executed. The authenticity of Peter Kosminky’s direction really makes Mantel’s drama real and I cannot begin to describe the costumes! Understated and wonderful. As for that other male character, Damien Lewis is a really brilliant Henry. I’m not going to say anything about Anne, except I wish she had worn brown contact lenses and that is my only criticism of her. I am sure you will love the series.

      That disclaimer about works of fiction makes the life of a writer slightly less hazardous ! I’ve just written a novel set in the 20th century based on the British government’s ill thought out new planning regulations and how these might might be exploited by unscrupulous developers. It is based on a real case – thank goodness for disclaimers!

  2. L /

    Claire You definitely have me thinking again about fact and fiction in a book and a drama .

  3. < /

    Claire, you rock, girl. You speak, my thoughts come out. 🙂

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Historical Fiction and Accuracy