Welcome to Cliowrite, my website in homage to Clio, Muse of History.
A recent review of one of my books termed it ‘faction’. That is, historical fiction based upon fact, and the more I thought about it the more I liked the term because it goes to the core of two of my convictions about the study of the discipline that has been my passion since I learned to read.
Those convictions are, first, that the recorded events of History form a ready-made loom awaiting only the weaving of stories that can be as varied and fascinating as any pattern ever woven into silk or broadcloth.
Whoever heard, for instance, of someone being drowned in a wine-barrel?
Who would believe that Britain’s future once turned upon what happened in the last half-hour of daylight on an October afternoon at Hastings just under a thousand years ago?
These are two examples of any number of reasons why ‘Truth is stranger than fiction.’
The second conviction is that Clio has not been well-served in the way History has traditionally been taught in schools, because for many years it has been a procession of dates, doings and events of the famous with no record of what the ordinary man or woman thought about any of them. In three words, then, History has been damned as élitist, disjointed and boring, and perhaps this is why Henry Ford famously damned it as ‘bunk’ upon discovering that a student of westward expansion in America couldn’t find out the practical details of how, exactly, a settler harrowed the land. And if so, who can justly blame him?
At this point I need to thank, and to acknowledge my debt, to the hundreds of students who allowed me to tell them stories of people’s interaction with ideas and events that were frequently challenging and sometimes earth-shaking; all in pursuit of an understanding of how our past has affected our present.
I believe that the story is everything because people need to be able to see themselves in it; it needs to be credible because thinking people aren’t gullible; and it needs to be complete because a story incomplete is a story poorly told. A definition of a great story might well be “Something built on research to create interest by promoting understanding.”
However, definitions without examples may say both everything and nothing. I have tried to work to this definition in writing the books offered in this site. How well I’ve succeeded will be judged by you, my readers.
Therefore, because I hope my stories will interest, inform and above all entertain you, if you enjoyed them (and even more if you didn’t) I’d welcome hearing from you.
Thank you for sharing my journey.
M J Burr.