Next Sunday, August 5, I’ll be taking part in a historical fiction event at the Weald And Downland Open Air Museum. I’ve visited the museum a couple of times with my family as a punter and it really is an amazing place.
Very appropriate, I think, that the theme of the day is historical fiction, because whenever I’ve wandered through the historic buildings that have been brought together and rebuilt there I always find myself trying to imagine the lives and stories of the people who used to live in them.
I can think of no more inspiring place for historical novelists.
Here’s a brief description from the website:
Discover traditional buildings from south-east England, representing more than 600 years of history, which have been saved from destruction, carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt. Amongst the exhibit houses you can see an archaeological reconstruction of a late 13th peasant house, a substantial late medieval ‘Wealden’ hall house, a 17th century cottage and a pair of mid-Victorian railway workers’ cottages. We also have a late 15th century kitchen, a pair of late medieval shops, an early 17th century market hall, a 17th/19th century working water mill, an early 20th century tin tabernacle and a range of industrial, agricultural and trade buildings.
The Historical Fiction Day features panels on using real historical figures in fiction and the importance of landscape and setting in historical fiction. There are some far more illustrious writers than me taking part, including Emma Darwin, Maria McCann, Alison Weir and Kate Williams.
If you’re in the area, it would be great to see you there. Details here.