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A Writer's Guide to History series

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A Writer's Guide to History series

Post by MUP » Mon April 8th, 2013, 12:57 pm

Firstly, thank you to Susan for granting us permission to post here.

Hello. I'm a Commissioning Editor at Manchester University Press and I'm hoping you can help me with some research I'm doing for a possible new series for us. As writers, would you find a series of guides to certain historical periods (Victorians, Middle Ages, Tudors, etc) useful? They would be written by historians who specialise in their fields and would contain information on everyday life, which would include anything from what people ate, drank and wore to how they wooed, posted letters, swore or committed crimes.

If so, what eras would you be interested in reading about? Are there any particular regions that interest you? What would you want to know about them and the people that inhabited them? The more specific you can be, the better.

Thank you for your help and time – it is very much appreciated.

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Post by fljustice » Tue April 9th, 2013, 4:51 pm

I find those kinds of references very useful and already have a few from Facts on File: The Handbook to Life in Ancient (Egypt, Rome, Greece) and Everyday Life in Byzantium from a separate publisher. FOF also has volumes on several other era's/geographies, including Prehistoric, Medieval and Renaissance Europe.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do this, just pointing you toward the competition (if you haven't already checked it out) and the eras already covered. As a writer, I eat this stuff up. Particularly if you can build a product that is easy to reference electronically and has lots of pictures.

Best of luck with your project!
Faith L. Justice, Author Website

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Post by EC2 » Tue April 9th, 2013, 4:58 pm

Have you been in touch with Dr. Gillian Polack? She's working on one about the Middle Ages specifically geared towards writers of HF who want to world build. She's a cultural historian who works closely with writing communities and has given papers on the interface between writers and historians and may be able to help out a lot. Contact details should be pretty easy online. She's listed around and about.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal


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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue April 9th, 2013, 7:00 pm

While a guide would be useful, I can't imagine any publishing company producing one as detailed and in-depth as I tend to get when I am doing research. But I do have a collection of specific books on my research area. I am indebted to Osprey for some of their military campaign books, complete with little diagrams showing who attacked from what direction and when, including the lay of the ground.
Since I write 16th-century Spain, Portugal and Peru, with interests in Italy, England, and other colonial outposts in the Indian Ocean, I tend to go for lists of ships, family trees, and the like.
I do wish I had a comprehensive work on the Spanish church as a whole, not just the Inquisition. As it is, I have to wade through the individual works of Peter Martyr, Teresa de Avila and Luis de Granada, searching for relevant historical material in between the philosophy.

And I would dearly love if some of the original documents were translated. My reading of 16th-century Spanish is quite laborious, and I'm afraid the nuances get lost along the way.

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Post by DianeL » Tue April 9th, 2013, 10:58 pm

Spinning off of what MLE says - I'd be interested in a guide particularly if it provided source material. A guide is a nice start, but on the internet I find that sources of *sources* have been the most valuable tools I've found. Oddly enough, I actually loved hitting the notes sections on Wikipedia, which led me to great pages, many of which led to further sources of their own. Did that so many times it turned into a system with "The Ax and the Vase".

Also heartily agreed on TRANSLATIONS. As I don't speak French, I missed out on a wealth of sources for my subject, Clovis I of the Salian Franks. Ouch!

In terms of reasearch, obviously my period is Late Antiquity/the early years of what is unfortunately called "the Dark Ages" and/or the medieval period. Though I've finished with the Merovingian dynasty, I know many folks who'd be interested in Franks both Merovingian and Carolingian. I've shifted, for my current WIP, to Ravenna, Italy and Constantinople, between 500-535 CE - the Ostrogoths. Justinian's Plague and the Nika Riots, Theodora, Amalasuntha, that lot. The third novel (very much on a back burner) will fast forward a great deal to the period of William the Conqueror and the Bishop Mauger, in the Channel Islands, in a monastery/nunnery.

Specific enough? :)

Keep us posted; interesting prospects here!
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"


The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers


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A Writer's Guide to History - thanks

Post by MUP » Fri April 12th, 2013, 8:34 am

Hi all - thank you for helping with this research, and for your comments and suggestions, for example - Gillian Polack, who I will be in touch with. We were very much hoping the feedback would be as useful as this.

Thanks again.

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Thu April 18th, 2013, 1:05 pm

I'm not sure if you're still looking for suggestions, but as a writer, I love specific information. Too often programs give broad strokes that are not helpful when I need focused details.

For example, I'm studying Scotland just before and after William and Mary's reign. As always, the politics are dizzying and most programs that cover the time period only hit the basics. I'd much rather learn about a slice, a year, one family, in the period.

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