As writing historical has been my genre of choice for several years, I am interested in the 'official' definition of the time scale that constitutes Historical Fiction, a subject much debated by the experts.
Historical fiction can be defined as a literary genre with historical and or fictional characters in which true and fictional actions takes place in settings drawn from history. The best writers portray the manners, times and social conditions of the time.
There's a popular feeling that anything set back 30 years or more is a historical novel, and that's been my yardstick. But not so according to Richard Lee, founding member of the Historical Novel Society. He says that to be regarded as historical fiction, a novel must be written at least 50 years after the events described, or written by someone who was not alive at the time of the events
|Historical Novel Society list forthcoming historical novels|
In her definitive World Historical Fiction, Lynda Adamson states that a "generally accepted definition" is a novel "about a time period of at least 25 years before it was written". And "If the setting is in a time earlier than that with which the reader is familiar, it is historical fiction."
Historical fiction presents a story that takes place during a notable period in history, and often during a significant event in that period. Setting usually takes priority, with the author making a statement or observation about the period. Historical fiction often presents events from the point of view of fictional characters of that time period. Events portrayed in historical fiction must adhere to the laws of nature.