My Thursday Thoughts this week are about the necessity of adding a #historical context to the front, or end, matter of a historical novel. When in reader mode, I confess to generally being impatient about delving straight in to the reading of a brand new novel, which means I often don't even realise that a #historical context page/s exists. However, there are other times when I'm just into the novel and I think a little bit of background information would be useful. I then go in search of a page (front or back) that might give me more background for understanding the environment my characters are inhabiting. At such times, I'm delighted to find a #historical context section.
Currently, I'm preparing the front and end matter for Agricola's Bane - Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. The first three books of the series all have a #historical context page, so I'm maintaining the consistency and preparing one.
My problem this time is that I'm in as much of a vacuum as I was during the writing of the novel. What really is known of the historical background to General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola's campaigns in northern Britannia? The answer is very little. We know little about the actual tribes he subdued, and little about what happened after he subdued those northern tribes. I've done research galore over the last three years, but written evidence from the period just isn't there which means that I'm working from translations of Agricola's campaigns, and from interpretations by later historians and archaeologists.
From Tacitus and other written material we know who Agricola's predecessors as Governor of Britannia were, but we don't actually know with clarity who was Agricola's successor. Should copies of the missing parts of Tacitus' 'Agricola' be found, and they fill in important details, historians and wannabee s like I am will be utterly thrilled!
My #historical context is therefore almost as vague as the descriptions found in Tacitus' De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae. What I can definitely say is that it's harder to write than the one for Book 1.
Look out for my #historical context in Book 4 that is coming soon....