Reiver by David Pilling

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Defaming the dead...

...don't do it, is the message of this blog post. A number of fellow writers and bloggers have recently - and quite rightly - taken up cudgels against the defamation of long-dead people for the sake of 'exciting' alternative takes on history, usually in novels. Recent blog posts on Kathryn Warner's rather wonderful site about Edward II are well worth reading:

And the equally wonderful Sarah Butterfield...

This sort of thing has been going on a long time, and is an easy habit to fall into - readers of my novel might notice that I don't hestitate to stick the boot into certain historical personages, but I like to think there is at least some justification for it. But some things are beyond the pale, particularly the very nasty trend towards depicting medieval queens and noblewomen as whores: these kind of slurs are essential, otherwise most 'alternative' theories concerning the parentage of certain kings are dead in the water.

So - any of you aspiring historical authors out there, have a sense of empathy and responsibility, and pause for thought before depicting William Marshal in print as a cackling paedophile (or whatever). Failing that, simply change all the names and locations and tout your package of wanton lies and half-truths as a fantasy novel. Sorted!


  1. *Applauds* Very, very well said, David, and thanks for the link and the kind words!