Historical Research Companion (Formerly the Historical Posts Index)

New! August 7, 2016: The completely revised 3nd edition of the HISTORICAL RESEARCH COMPANION!



Welcome to the 3rd edition of the Historical Research Companion. Written from the perspective of a historical romance writer and reader, this new edition expands the daily life historical information and continues to look deeper into what makes each historical time period popular as a romance setting.

With this 3rd edition, the chronological order has been “flipped” to go back in time instead of forward. We begin with a look the Gilded Age/Edwardian Era. Like the Regency, it is a relatively short time span that reaches beyond its historical boundaries in influence. The next stops on the journey follow this order: Victorian/American Old West, Revolutionary Times and the Regency, Renaissance and Reformation, Medieval Times, and The Dark Ages.

The companion is further divided into sub-categories, which are: Political and Social Climate, Fashion, Food and Drink, Society and Entertainment, Crime and Punishment, Religion, Health and Medicine, Travel and Transportation, and Homes and Architecture. Some time periods still have more sub-categories than others. The Regency, my favorite time period, probably still gets the lion’s share of attention, but additional topics have been added to all of the main categories. Last but not least, each time period still has an extensive Chronology, located at the back of the book, to help you get a sense of your time and place.

This companion continues to be about getting a head start on your research and getting on with the business of writing. It is not, as you probably can guess from the scope of historical content covered, the sort of book to read “cover to cover.” There are no covers, for one thing, and nor are there likely to be since this is a resource that takes full advantage of the Internet. As one reviewer pointed out, it is rather like a Google search, but without the distractions. That is not to say you won’t get distracted when you venture out to explore a link provided, but I hope you will return home to the organization of this companion.

It is the organization, or in other words, the simple fact that the focus of this companion is kept on the needs of the historical romance writer, that I hope you will find most unique and helpful. This companion does not cover everything, in spite of what the title implies, but it does cover a lot. The Table of Contents is your short cut to specific topics, but the Companion also gives a framework to your research by looking at what makes each historical setting uniquely appealing. Some time periods will have several of these “Popularity as a Romance Setting” entries. The Victorian time period, for instance, looks at the popularity of sub-genres with settings of the American Old West, the American Civil War and also Native American Romances. Likewise, the Dark Ages and Medieval time periods look at sub-genres of Viking Age Romance, Arthurian Legend Romance and Romances set during the Norman Conquest. Or, not to be forgotten, are the highwaymen and pirates of Revolutionary Times.

There is, logically, some repetition and overlap with broad topics and themes. For instance, the English system of primogeniture and the policy of entail is a political system of great interest to a historical romance writer, mainly because it has enormous social consequences for characters in a historical setting. And so, the word “social” is now added to the Political Climate sub-category because I feel, as you may, that the social consequences of political systems and events is what we find most important when researching history for our fictional stories.

Across the span of time, certain topics also overarch. The history of bloodletting, for example, is a medical practice that went on for hundreds of years, but didn’t change overmuch in understanding or method. Or the history of horses for transportation is another interesting topic that carries over century after century, but is slightly more changeable over time with manmade innovations of invention and breeding. At times, history moves so slowly you hardly notice a difference and at other times it advances with lighting speed, driven by a renaissance, an industrial revolution, or simply a fashionable, trend-setting monarch.

So let’s dive into some time travel! I hope you enjoy the added content of this 3rd edition!

Melissa Johnson

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