Names of Historical Fiction books

Character names in historical fiction
English Historical Fiction Authors: Second Anniversary Celebration

Character names in historical fiction

Names are vital in creating the right image for characters. For example, I find it hard to imagine Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights having anything like the same brooding presence if he had had an ordinary name like John or Richard, or to imagine James Bond having the same alpha-male impact if his friends called him Jimmy, or to imagine Jane Eyre with a fanciful name like Ginevra. So far, so obvious.

Historical fiction presents some additional twists on the issue, however. To my mind, the character names have to be authentic for the period and setting. I'd have real trouble reading a Regency romance where the heroine had a modern name like Kylie, for example, or a story set in Arthurian Britain where the heroes had Norman names, or a story set in Wales where the characters had Irish or Scottish names. I also feel strongly that if the characters are real people whose names are documented, the real name should be used. This produces some potential difficulties.

Firstly, in some historical settings there seem to have been quite a small number of very popular names, and so you find that several people in the story had the same name. How does the writer keep them separate so the reader can tell who is who? One way is to use nicknames (real or invented); Nigel Tranter used nicknames to differentiate between the four ladies named Marie who served Mary Queen of Scots in Warden of the Queen's March. Another way is to be creative with variants of the name. In Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, Sharon Penman has four important women called Eleanor and manages the names thus: Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III (Eleanor); Eleanor Plantagenet, sister of Henry III and wife of Simon de Montfort (Nell); Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I (Eleanora); Eleanor de Montfort, daughter of Simon de Montfort (Ellen).

Secondly, some historical names have gone completely out of use and are unfamiliar to a modern reader. Many Old English names disappeared in Britain in the centuries after the Norman Conquest, though a few remained in use or were revived in the Victorian period when there was a vogue for things Anglo-Saxon (e.g. Alfred, Edward, Edwin, Hilda, Ethel). Some of the Welsh names in the Mabinogion or the genealogies are still in use (e.g. Angharad, Owain, Cadwallader), others have vanished. My feeling on this is that unfamiliar names are not too much of a problem, because presumably people reading historical fiction are expecting to enter a world that isn't the same as the modern world and will take the names on trust. However, I think a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar names might be a problem. It doesn't bother me to find 'Angharad' in the Mabinogion even though I went to school with a girl called Angharad, or to find 'Edwin' in Bede even though I had a great-uncle called Edwin, but that's because I happen to know both names have been in use for centuries. But I can imagine that it might be jarring to someone who doesn't know that. So in my fiction set in seventh century Britain, I try to avoid names that are still in contemporary use. Where the character is a real historical figure and had a name that is still in use, I stick to the real name but use an archaic spelling instead of the modern one (e.g. Eadweard instead of Edward). (By the way, if you read the synopsis I submitted to Miss Snark's Crapometer, and find this confusing, it's because I changed all the names before submitting it. Call me sentimental, but some of my characters are real people who lived 1400 years ago, and although I didn't mind Miss Snark ridiculing me if I deserved it, I did not want her ridiculing them).

Source: carlanayland.blogspot.com


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An excellent review of said book

2002-02-21 12:37:29 by inside_here

Not Out of Africa
How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History
by Mary Lefkowitz
How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History
by Mary Lefkowitz
New York: Basic Books, 1996
This is a book for teachers and scholars, written by a professor of classics at Wellesley College. I wish there were no need for such a book. It is to our national shame both that Afrocentrism has been allowed to flourish inside our schools, but outside the boundaries of the traditional standards of empirical research, and that there has been a need for Afrocentrism to develop in the first place

Not around..

2008-12-16 20:50:04 by Jesus666

The 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are examples of books which did not carry the names of their actual authors. The present names were assigned long after these four books were written. And--in spite of what the Gospel authors say--biblical scholars are now almost unanimously agreed that none of the Gospel authors was either an actual disciple of Jesus or even an eyewitness to his ministry. Many biblical books have the earmarks of fiction. Johns gospel is totally false.
No historian who is religiously unbiased takes the bible as a book of history. The four gospels, were written with an agenda convert masses and not as an accurate historical account

Not even a slim chance...Sorry..

2009-02-11 20:14:20 by Jesus666

The 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are examples of books which did not carry the names of their actual authors. The present names were assigned long after these four books were written. And--in spite of what the Gospel authors say--biblical scholars are now almost unanimously agreed that none of the Gospel authors was either an actual disciple of Jesus or even an eyewitness to his ministry. Many biblical books have the earmarks of fiction.
No historian who is religiously unbiased takes the bible as a book of history. The four gospels, were written with an agenda convert masses and not as an accurate historical account


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