Articulating the Fact Behind the Fiction: Narrative Inquiry as a Research Methodology for Historical Novelists

  • Alison Owens
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Education Research Methods book series (PSERM)


Writers of historical fiction are not conventionally academics, yet research is an important aspect of the groundwork that they complete to build an authentic and credible portrait of an imagined past. Variously described as a ‘bricoleur as bower-bird’ (Webb & Brien, Addressing the ‘ancient quarrel’: Creative writing as research. In M. Biggs & H. Karlsson (Eds.), The Routledge companion to research in the arts. London: Routledge, 2011) or ‘magpie’ (Pullinger, How to write fiction: Research. The Guardian, 2008) approach to research, creative writers of historical fiction conduct research into a period in time drawing on a wide range of diverse data as the needs of the story dictate. This chapter argues that such research can usefully be conceived, pursued, and explained as arts-based, and arts-informed, narrative inquiry. The chapter explains the relevance of this approach as a methodological maneuver for organizing and articulating a novelist’s engagement with historical fact in order to create historical fiction.


Creative Process Qualitative Researcher Narrative Inquiry Creative Writing Ontological Assumption 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Owens
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Education and the ArtsCQUniversity AustraliaMelbourneAustralia

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