Dickens...Hardy...Jarvis?! A novel take on the Industrial Revolution

Teaching History article

By Gary Hillyard, published 23rd November 2010

Dickens...Hardy...Jarvis?! A novel take on the Industrial Revolution

‘Empathy with edge' was the editorial description given eight years ago to the kind of historical fiction that Dave Martin and Beth Brooke first argued history students should be writing (TH 108). The winning entries from the annual ‘Write Your Own Historical Story Competition' to which their work gave rise have more than vindicated their faith in the creative combination of rigorous historical research and literary skills. In this article Gary Hillyard explains how his department built on Martin and Brooke's inspirational work, even establishing their own historical novel competition, with publication for the winning entries. While their approach displays the same respect for historical rigour and careful attention to style and genre, Hillyard's account of how the scheme was developed and refined over successive years also provides a richly detailed explanation of how his department supported the necessary development of all students' literacy skills while still allowing them - as ‘independent enquirers' and ‘creative thinkers' - to direct and shape their own learning.

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