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Comment from the book world in September 2021

September 2021

Historical fiction and historical fact

20 September 2021

‘Fiction is good at contradictions and flaws; it doesn't deal just in cause and effect, but in the inconsequential, the incidental, the half-formed, half-understood, and what is too ephemeral to write itself into the record. To a degree, historians have to believe that people meant what they said and said what they meant, and that their actions can be interpreted by the logic of their lives and times. But fiction redirects us to mystery and chance, and doesn't assume that people know their own minds or hearts.'

Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, two books from which won the Man Booker Prize, and six other novels


'I needed the money'

6 September 2021

‘I have often been asked how I came to write. The best answer is that I needed the money. When I started I was 35 and had failed in every enterprise I had ever attempted. . . I had gone thoroughly through some of the all-fiction magazines and I made up my mind that if people were paid for writing such rot as I read I could write stories just as rotten. Although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.'

Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of 91 novels, which have sold hundreds of millions of copies, who is best known for Tarzan of the Apes, the first of 26 Tarzan books which were translated into more than 56 languages and were also popular in comic-strip, motion-picture, television, and radio versions. He once said 'I write to escape ... to escape poverty'.