Top author Alison Weir brings history to life for students

Friday 7 October 2016

Sixth form students learned about the art of blending fact and fiction for a good read when top historian and author Alison Weir visited The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL).

Although Alison first became interested in history and started writing as a teenager in the 1960s, she didn’t publish her first book until 1989. A trained teacher with history as her main subject, Alison instead pursued a career in the civil service before Britain’s Royal Families was published, which she had started researching in her teens.

She published nine further history books before branching out into historical fiction in 2006 with the publication of Innocent Traitor, based on the tragic life of Lady Jane Grey. Now on her seventh historical novel, Alison was well placed to give students a fascinating insight into the writing process and the distinction between history and historical fiction, which she described as “show rather than tell.”

Alison said: “There is now a recognition that authentic history doesn’t only reside in the hallowed halls of universities. All historians use the same sources, whether academic or popular, and what’s written must remain credible.”

Authenticity is key to Alison’s writing, so she advocates thorough research from as many sources as possible. Aspects such as emotions and speech patterns cannot be revealed through the sources, so there is scope for invention as long as it is firmly rooted in the facts.

The visit to GSAL came about while Alison was in Yorkshire for appearances at the Morley Arts Festival and Ripon International Festival, to present the first novel in her new six book series on Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen.

Photo: Alison Weir with Tom Shakespeare, Year 12, winner of a copy of her latest book

 

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