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Friday, March 27, 2015

History is Story

I love history. I love reading and writing historical fiction. That shouldn't surprise anyone reading this blog, since Colonial Quills is all about history. But it’s amusing to tell this to people I meet out and about during my daily life. I get some pretty predictable responses.

“Oh. History. I hated that in high school.”

“I could never read history. It’s so boring.”

“I read a book once.” (But let’s not dwell on these people today.)

My favorite way to respond to the history haters is with a few questions.

“Do you watch Downton Abbey?” More often than not this gets a wide-eyed positive response with a little gushing about how much they enjoy the show.

“Who is your favorite character?” This varies widely, but everyone has a favorite.

“What do you think about the costumes and the setting?” I love those who admit that these elements transport them back in time. And – yes – I am setting them up.

Once they are in their happy place about Downton Abbey, I casually let slip:

“Downton Abbey is a great example of historical fiction.” tweet this

While I’ve never literally had to pick up someone's chin and hand it back to them, it’s been close a couple of times. So many people equate history with a teacher who stood over them and crammed dates and names down their rebellious teenage throats.

Oh! The injustice of that!

History is story. First, foremost, and always. Hi―story. Treat it like such and you’ll make even the most jaded history hater into a fan. And a pox upon any history teachers who are treating it like a series of dates and names. A pox, I say!


  1. WELCOME to CQ, Pegg, we are so glad to have you!!!

  2. Great post, Pegg! I think the history teacher has a lot to do with it. Without passion, the lessons can be boring. But YOU have such an entertaining way of bringing history to life in your stories.

    1. You're too sweet, Candice. But you're right, passion makes the difference. One cannot be both passionate and boring.

  3. I was blessed to have wonderful history teachers in jr. high and high school. Also my parents fostered my love of history by taking us to places of historical significance when we were on vacation. Both of these brought history to life for me.

    1. My granddad really fostered my love of history. He loved history and loved passing on the stories. He worked for Henry Ford. He was a tenant farmer on one of Ford's farms. Granddad had a lot of great stories to tell!

  4. Great post! I recently had to add an "almost spoiler" to my historical novel on the recommendation of a friend who refuses to read history. As per my friend's request, she wanted to know what she would "take away" from reading this historical novel. She also mentioned covering why this story was so "important" and "exciting." I accommodated her request in the "almost spoiler." The pitch worked so well I included it in the front items of the book.

  5. Isn't it a shame with have to cover up the "history" part to get some people to read a great book?!

  6. I agree! In school, I thought history was okay, but never was that into it. As an adult, however, I find it intriguing and so much more interesting. :)

  7. Pegg, I so agree with your pox! What is history w/out the story? Keep up the good work! Win 'em over, girl!

  8. Pegg,

    You are right. It is all in the presentation! Good post!

  9. That's why I like this site. So many insightful people who understand how AWESOME history really is!


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