Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Daily Life of Your Historical Characters

Please welcome Karen MacMurray today. Even if you don't plan to write a historical novel, you might be interested to find out where and how your favorite author gets his or her information to make the richly detailed novels you love to read.


This article is for those of you who want to write a historical novel based in another time and perhaps on another continent. To include information about the clothing, customs, events of the day and other tidbits brings your novel to life and creates an atmosphere around which you can craft a more realistic work. If you have ever read a Lee Child’s book you know the author had to have been in the military and he had experience of being in fights.

Let’s start close to home. Your public library has paid databases that you can access such as Heritage Quest. Their PERSI records have information on people and places which include pictures. The Library of Congress is a great source for old newspapers, manuscripts, diaries and photographs. If you look in a newspaper from 1836 you will see advertisements showing clothing and numerous articles about news events and prominent people. You can type in Google “free newspaper archives” and read newspapers from all over the US . If you are interested in courtship in America the Virginia Romance Writers website has links to costumes, etiquette, hairstyles, and courting behavior. Cindy Vallar at www.cindyvallar.com/links.html  has a treasure chest of information on everything from the daily life of sailors, cowboys, pirates and more.

England and Europe are favorite countries for authors to base their novel. Google “Vision of Britain” and you will find manuscripts from travel writers dating from 1066, pictures and illustrations of villages and cities. One of my favorite websites is Odin’s Castle. There you can find information on not only England and Europe but ancient cultures, Asia and of course the United States. You can find out about daily life for many time periods: Regency, Middle Ages, Medieval etc.

The Victorian Times at www.victorianweb.org specializes in everything during this time including customs, clothing, fashion, shoes, courtship and flirting rituals. The Central New York Romance Writers also have a lot of links to this time period. www.allempires.com/forum/default.asp has historical picture galleries showing. I also found the Luminarion: Anthology of English Literature has a lot more than literature at www.luminarium.org. Reading about women’s occupations during Chaucer’s time as well as medicines was fascinating stuff. Weid’s links to the middle ages goes into children of the time as well as clothing, occupations, cooking and more. Check it out at www.fidnet.com/~weid links to the Middle Ages.

Karen MacMurray is a retired librarian and author. Check out her newest blog at http://www.promote-your-book.com/blog

1 comment:

  1. I personally could never do the research to write an historical, but I so admire those who do. Nice to meet you Karen.