Writing Letchworth's war: developing a sense of the local within historical fiction through primary sources

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Jon Grant and Dan Townsend, last updated: 27th June 2014

Writing Letchworth's war: developing a sense of the local within historical fiction through primary sources

Local history, historical fiction, and one of the most significant events of the twentieth century come together in this article as Jon Grant and Dan Townsend suggest a way to enable students to produce better historical fiction and improve their understanding of the history of their own area. They develop the work on historical fiction contributed by others to this journal by creating links with a local historian and museum; as a result, their students produce fiction which is grounded in its period and has an authentic story to tell. In their work with sources, their students learn to identify useful evidence, knowing that they have a real purpose to which it  can be put. Grant and Townshend also discuss the problem of simplification in working with sources, ensuring that students have enough to look at to enable them to arrive at a sense of period without being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of sources available. The results are pleasing to both history and English departments, and eliminate some of the more common anachronistic errors to which students are prone. The editors would like to thank Ros Allwood at North Hertfordshire District Council, and Sian Woodward at Letchworth Museum and Art Gallery, for permission to reproduce some of the sources used in this enquiry.

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