I’m posting some stories from various of my books – stories about real people in history, all connected to Liverpool, since that’s what I was writing about for eight years. Amazing true tales about extraordinary people, or people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. As far I know no books have been written about them so far, but if you’ve come across any, let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your book about one of these folk.
These true stories can obviously prompt pure fiction, but the mix of historic fact and fiction makes for a fascinating read. I’m in the middle of Iain Pears‘s book Stone’s Fall, which is all about capitalism, secret politics, and global industry set just before the First World War – a brilliant read even for someone who knows little and cares less about war, banking and politics; the industrialist John Stone reminds one of several possible models, and althogh I don’t know enough history to recognise which names and plot points are genuine, I assume that Pears’s research has been deep and broad.
One of my all-time favourite books is Harry Thompson‘s This Thing of Darkness, about the voyages of The Beagle and the friendship between its captain, Fitzroy, and Charles Darwin. Utterly fascinating – beautifully written, intriguing, very well researched, beguiling and touching.
A third recommendation is Anthony Quinn’s The Rescue Man, inspired by the visionary 19thC architect Peter Ellis and his revolutionary buildings Oriel Chambers and 16 Cook Street in Liverpool. Full of authentic detail, the story is nevertheless pure fiction; Ellis and his buildings are cleverly reinvented and renamed.
Here are some unsung intrigues, scandals and anecdotes to spark your own fiction or faction. Have fun with them, and give me a nod in your acknowledgements page when it gets published – deal?