Sunday, 9 December 2012

Working on a short story.

Finally, after a couple of years, I'm putting my PhD to some use. No, I'm not lecturing, I'm having a go at a historical fiction short story. That's proving interesting, because one of the things with it seems to be getting the detail, without letting it become just a list of details. It's an intriguing balancing act, and also one that shows how much isn't there in terms of the historical record.

I'm focussing on my favourite piece of thirteenth century forgery, and on an event that involved both Henry III and the Archbishop of York, so there are some fairly major figures involved, but how much do we know about them? I can tell you, thanks to the PhD, things about their probable intentions over the course of the period, and the interesting conflict for power that was going on at the time. Yet I can't tell you with any certainty what they looked like (because even tomb effigies like Henry IIIs were as much about projecting an image as the reality). I can tell you the names of some of the canons of the churches involved, but certainly not all, and definitely not those of their vicars. Even with my MC, who is one historical figure I know more about than most, I can't tell you for sure what age he was, or what prebend he held, or much else. I have just enough information to get a sense of his probable intentions, and I can take a guess as to his rough age, because I know the earliest and latest charters that show him as alive, but that's it.

Hopefully, it's enough.

2 comments:

Marta Szemik said...

It sounds like an interesting story. Yes, it's always a balancing act, isn't it. Hope all will work out!

Deniz Bevan said...

I'm already intrigued!