On Language In Historical Novels, by Judith Cutler

Writing Historical Novels

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book than the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century – and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed – this was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:
ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL

– Persuasion by Jane Austen

Who would dare write an opening paragraph like that these days, even for a novel set in the early nineteenth century?

Look at the risks Austen has…

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