Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders by Susanne Alleyn
A Writer's (and Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, and Myths

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This is not a book on how to write historical fiction. It is a book on how not to write historical fiction.

If you love history and you’re hard at work writing your first historical novel, but you’re wondering if your medieval Irishmen would live on potatoes, if your 17th-century pirate would use a revolver, or if your hero would be able to offer Marie-Antoinette a box of chocolate bonbons . . .

(The answer to all these is “Absolutely not!”)

. . . then Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is the book for you.

Medieval Underpants will guide you through the factual mistakes that writers of historical fiction—both beginners and seasoned professionals—often make, and show you how to avoid them. From fictional characters crossing streets that wouldn’t exist for another sixty (or two thousand) years, to 1990s slang in the mouths of 1940s characters, to the pitfalls of the Columbian Exchange (when plants and foods native to the Americas first began to appear in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and vice versa), historical novelist Susanne Alleyn exposes the often hilarious, always painful goofs that turn up most frequently in fiction set in the past.

Alleyn stresses the hazards to writers of assuming too much about details of life in past centuries, providing numerous examples of mistakes that could easily have been avoided. She also explores commonly-confused topics such as the important difference between pistols and revolvers, and between the British titles “Lord John Smith” and “John, Lord Smith” and why they’re not interchangeable, and provides simple guidelines for getting them right. In a wide assortment of chapters including Food and Plants; Travel; Guns; Money; Names; Hygiene; Dialogue; Attitudes; Research; and, of course, Underpants, she offers tips on how to avoid errors and anachronisms while continually reminding writers of the necessity of meticulous historical research.

"I’ve been writing historical fiction for several decades, and I found this book immediately useful. I wish it had been published long ago. Written with humour, knowledge and common sense. An essential!"
Sandra Gulland, author, Mistress of the Sun and The Josephine B. Trilogy


About Susanne Alleyn

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Susanne Alleyn has loved history all her life, aided and abetted by her grandmother, Lillie Vanderveer Albrecht, an author of historical children's books in the 1950s and 60s. Happy to describe herself as an insufferable knowitall about historical trivia (although she lost on Jeopardy!), Susanne has been writing and researching historical fiction for nearly three decades. She is the author of the acclaimed Aristide Ravel French Revolution Mysteries; A Far Better Rest, the reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities; and a forthcoming novel and various nonfiction projects.
Published June 11, 2013 by Spyderwort Press. 242 pages
Genres: Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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