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Showing posts from 2016

Obiter Dicta and Other Pronouncements: Augustine Birrell and the Suffragettes

I recently came into possession of a minor literary curiosity, a copy of the first volume of The Collected Essays and Addresses of the Rt Hon Augustine Birrell 1880-1920 published by J M Dent in 1922. The book was dedicated to the author’s friend “GSC” at Christmas 1922. A hand-written note in the book states that “GSC” was Goonie Churchill. She was Winston Churchill’s sister-in-law Gwendoline, who was known in the Churchill family as Goonie. She married Winston Churchill’s younger brother Jack in 1908. (Though the note dates the dedication to Christmas 1929.)       Why should this book be of the slightest interest to me? The reason is that Augustine Birrell (1850–1933) was a minister in the Liberal government that so determinedly resisted women’s demand for the vote during the militant suffrage campaign of 1903 to 1914. Birrell was the Liberal MP for Bristol North between 1906 and 1918, and from 1907 to 1913 he was Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was in addition a great boo

Characters in Historical Fiction: The 2016 Triskele Litfest Panel on Historical Fiction

I'm pleased to welcome Jane Davis to the blog today with some highlights from the Historical Fiction panel at this year's Triskele Litfest. In this extract, the panellists discuss creating characters in historical fiction... At this year’s Triskele Litfest, author Jane Davis chaired a fascinating discussion on historical fiction. The panellists were Jane Dixon-Smith ( The Better of Two Men , third-century Syria); Orna Ross ( Her Secret Rose , the first in a trilogy about the poet WB Yeats); Radhika Swarup ( Where the River Parts , the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947); and Alison Morton ( Aurelia, a Roman-themed alternative history thriller). The panellists revealed why they had chosen to write about their particular eras, and discussed issues around defining historical fiction, language and setting. In this extract from Jane’s transcript of the debate they talk about characterisation:- Chair: I want to ask how you go about blending real-life charac