A historical novel is a novel in
which the story is set among historical events, or more generally,
in which the time of the action predates the lifetime of the
author. As such, the historical novel is distinguished from the
alternate-history genre. The historical novel was popularized in
the 19th century by artists classified as Romantics. Many regard
Sir Walter Scott as the first to have used this technique, in his
novels of Scottish history such as
(1814) and Rob Roy
(1818). His Ivanhoe
(1820) gains credit for renewing interest in the Middle Ages.
Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of
Notre Dame (1831) furnishes
another early example of the historical novel.
Historical fiction may center on historical or on fictional characters, but
usually represents an honest attempt based on considerable research (or at
least serious reading) to tell a story set in the historical past as
understood by the author's contemporaries. Those historical settings may not
stand up to the enhanced knowledge of later historians.
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