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Historical Novel

Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Kenilworth, Redgauntlet

novels writers period characters

a novel set in a specific historical period, in which some attempt at accurately describing the customs of the period has been made. Sir Walter Scott is generally recognized as the father of the modern historical novel; novels such as Rob Roy (1817), Ivanhoe (1819), Kenilworth (1821), Redgauntlet (1824) and others were widely admired and imitated by writers such as Thackeray, Dickens, George Eliot, and Hardy, for their imaginative portrayal of actual events, using both fictional and historical characters in narratives of great power and excitement. In the 1920s and afterwards the historical romance, as exemplified by the novels of Orczy, Weyman, Farnol, and Heyer, achieved widespread popularity for their extravagant plots, dashing and colourful characters, and love of romantic incident. Other writers in this tradition included Forester, whose Hornblower novels established a fashion for romances about warfare and male camaraderie. In the 1950s Mary Renault set a new standard of historical accuracy with her novels of Ancient Greece and Rome, which have been widely influential. The novels of J. Tey, R. Sutcliffe, H. Treece, and others belong to this category of historical fiction, which is scholarly in tone and realistic, rather than romantic in style. In more recent times the appeal of the form as a mode for serious fiction has declined, but several attempts to revive it have been made by writers such as R. Macaulay, William Golding, Rose Tremain, and Timothy Mo. Its greatest following is now in the popular market.

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