The past two decades have seen an outpouring of historical novels that resembles the deluge that swept across Europe and North America in response to Sir Walter Scott’s best-selling Waverley series, 1814-1832. Like the followers and imitators of Scott, today’s historical novelists show a wide range of writerly ability; some of these novels are much better written, more compelling, and more original than others. They have also invented new approaches to the genre, such as the historical detective story, the novel-within-a-novel, and historical fantasy.
Yet we still turn to historical fiction because we want to experience the past in an immediate and enjoyable way. We want to know what the people were like, how it felt to live in London during the plague or Paris during the revolution, whether Marie Antoinette was an airhead or Charles II was a cad. Inevitably, we wonder: is what this novel saying true? What is this writer making up? Why should writers turn to the eighteenth century, as so many of them have?
This collection seeks to provide answers to some of your questions. Some of the writers on this page are scholars; some of them are novelists. Some of them are both. But we hope that our collected contributions add to your enjoyment of your books and the eighteenth century.