FABRICATIONS. A new set of historical fictions

Our emeritus professor of medieval history, Colin Richmond, was almost as well known for his historical fictions as his extensive work on the Pastons and also on the Shoah. In 1983 he hoaxed a learned journal with   ‘A Blatter of Rain and the Origins of Penkhull,’ which described how, in the steps of Edmund Bishop, he had followed the trail of the reliquary of St Penket (an obscure Anglo-Saxon virgin) from the cathedral of Fribourg in Switzerland to the Potteries and, eventually, to the garden of Jorge Luis Borges’ grandmother’s home at 21 The Villas (home of the then Head of Department) in Stoke. In retirement he fabricationshas published a new volume of Paston letters, a biography of the philosemite, James Parkes, and a compelling reflection on the nature of historical writing Doing History. Now, in two volumes no less, we have new collections of historical fictions. The title character, Anthony Woodville, was one of Richard III’s most notable victims in 1483. But who can resist some of the chapters in these two volumes, the results of enquiries into ‘The Medieval Lap Dancer’, ‘Anthony Woodville and the Black Madonna of Willesden’ or ‘The Princes in the Tower: The Truth at Last’. Colin’s first volume of fictions, The Penket Papers, contained one paper ‘Dung ABC’ which had been rejected by a publisher as a patent hoax but which was in fact entirely straightfaced. Whioch of the current crop, one wonders, might be a truth masquerdaing as a fiction? The volumes are engagingly illustrated by Myrna Richmond. Further details can be found at www.blurb.co.uk/b/7327017

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