Here is a fascinating infographic showing where entrants to the Young Walter Scott Prize sourced their inspiration. From the history of the hidden Christians in Japan, to a 1950s family dealing with racial integration, from political intrigues in Ancient Byzantium to the personal sorrow and despair of Suffragettes and Soldiers, young writers of historical fiction are fearless in their writing and connected in their ideas.
Someone quoted an opinion to me last year that The Young Walter Scott Prize and The Imagining History Programme is ‘niche’ – only about history. IT SO ISN’T. History is not ‘just’ history. Mining history for its significances is more important than ever right now. Historical Fiction is all about new thinking. Most Historical facts are invisible. Historical Fiction is the search for new possibilities.
Apart from being Creative Director of The Imagining History Programme UK I am also Director of The Young Walter Scott Prize. The two things are inextricably related, both in their foundation and in their inspiration. I am so excited to post this map, showing the geographical spread of entries to the Prize. This year the range and expertise of the writing was impressive and in many cases astonishing. Young writers of Historical Fiction are showing themselves to be perceptive, engaged, energetic and, for readers, inspirational in the way they look at the world they encounter.
There has never been a more important time to promote the reading and writing of Historical Fiction. Sir Walter Scott hoped that his novel Waverley, or ’tis sixty years since would prove useful to people in putting bad times to rest and looking forward to better times. Our times now are troubling but surely there is hope in the coming generations of young people who are learning to take the long view.