Have you ever been in a two car crash or seen one happen? How much of the events leading up to it and the wreck itself do you remember? Even years later? Would the other person’s memories be different?
A few years ago, I wrote history tidbits for my chapter’s newsletter. It was a lot of fun and gave me a great excuse to buy all of the history books I wanted. At the time, Barnes and Noble even sent me the paperwork to fill out for a professor’s discount. That tickled me.
Anyway, during that period I received several responses from different readers – our chapter’s articles are sent out on an editors’ loop for other newsletters to use with credit given to the author – and several were good but there were a few who had objections to what I’d written.
One writer, who's a Native American in the mid-west, commented on my article about Plains Indians. She corrected me on family relationships in the tribes. Though she admitted customs varied from tribe to tribe.
Then a nice lady in Georgia caught me on a wrong word choice. I had said wife sales in England were legal up to 1850. She said they were never legal and there were recorded sales until 1919. How embarrassing. For me and the wives.
The biggy was a long email I receive from an enthusiast in the U.K. who said I was totally wrong about the death of a man-at-arms (long story). Anyway, she wasn’t an expert but her father loved history and knew I was wrong. I found her interesting and asked her a few questions and explained I had gotten the information out of a certain history book. She became upset with me and said no matter where I got it, I was wrong and I should correct it. Then I proceeded to explain even her father would know the contemporaries of that time would all have different opinions accordingly to their loyalties and how they heard it. Not everyone wrote back then and much of history was repeated from one person to another before someone wrote it down. Needless to say, she was not too happy with me. To her, history is black and white with no gray. Me? I believe history is all gray. Ten people can see the same thing happen and there will be ten different accounts with usually only one main string wiggling through it.
When it comes to reading historical romances I rarely pay attention to the historical accuracies as long as nuances of the period are there and the author can keep the picture rolling in my head, I’m okay.
So I would like to say to those out there who believe history is written in stone. Go read a rock. I prefer historical romance for entertainment and I don’t mind a little gray in it.