A Book is a Book, according to Byron. But an historical, novel or otherwise, is more. That particular book informs and builds a world. A world of the past.
The recent controversy over the Confederate flag illustrates the problems inherent when current politically correct attitudes conflict with reality. Past reality. I grew up in the South, mainly in Virginia, an old, proud state. To me, the flag meant Dixie and State’s Rights. Not slavery, which as a child I knew nothing about. My close friend was a pretty black girl. Logically, now, I completely understand the hatred with which many people endow the sight of the Confederate flag, and the decision to remove it from public property. Symbols change with the times.
Yet what happened in a certain year did happen, and as an historical novelist it is my job to decide what to include in my novel or not. A recent example of political correctness at war with a writer has to do with the publication of Harper Lee’s newly discovered work, a first draft of her beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, which is more racist but does reflect those times. Critics are horrified. So was publishing that work a good idea?