Sunday, August 26, 2012

History anyone?

I am having a bit of trouble deciding whether some of my stories set in the 70s and 80s qualify as 'historical'. What exactly is the time frame for historical? Anything happening in time past is history, so when can a story be classified as historical?

Realistically, when we see that classification, we think of time long past with characters in history books and significant world periods, like: medieval, Elizabethan or Victorian times. Or, in the Caribbean, we think of  Tainos (Arawaks), pirates, slavery, maroons and sugar plantations. People must be dressed in old time clothing and speak old fashioned language.

In researching this topic on the Internet, I saw one suggestion that a historical setting is anything before World War one. Another suggestion was anything before 1950, it being the halfway mark in the last century. That would make anything after that modern, I suppose. Of course, the next period would be contemporary meaning up to date with all the things that are happening around us now.

So, I suppose my 70s and 80s stories would be modern, but definitely not contemporary as there are no cellphones nor the host of other technological devices which are now so commonplace.

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  1. Yes, I would agree that anything post the 1950's cannot be seen as historical, though the writer would have to very aware of cell phones etc! But still the background of anything post the 1950's makes up the present and contemporary .. and the 70's and 80's are definitely contemporary!
    Thank you for this post. I will read the others!

  2. A very interesting thinking/talking point. When I wrote my Time Travel children's books (set in 1907 and 1951) I thought of those times as near history. The term near history to me meant that it would be quite possible for children reading them to have a relative alive who had had a relative alive then. I didn't think about it in detail. It just came to me like that.

  3. Hi, Hazel. I always think of 50's & 60's as historical and 70's and up as contemporary. Sometimes there is a fine line... I'm planning on writing a YA novel soon (young boy growing to manhood during this period). Like your question and perspectives from Susan and Diane. Really enjoyed this article! Glad to have found you.

  4. Hi, Hazel. Great question. Enjoyed your article and discussion comments. Will share on my FB Page as I'm currently writing a YA Fiction: setting 50'a & 60's. For me, this period is the cut-off for historical... It's a fine opportunity to see things from others' POV. THANKS to all. Bette

  5. In postcard speak we say semi-modern for anything from 1945 to 1980. some people take the end of WW1 as the start of the semi- modern era. I think it depends on your age as much as anything. My children's school history books went up to the 1990s which surprised me!