When, if ever, is it okay to write an article or book on a subject without strict proof?
I've recently read the book "The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It". I enjoyed the book considerably despite the fact that the author had little substantial proof of the personal story pertaining to Madame Clicquot. The author had done a tremendous amount of research and was able to share a great deal of information on the Champagne business, but little existed pertaining to Madame, herself. There is no surprise in that fact and, frankly, I thought it was most acceptable for the author to use her best judgement given the degree of research she had done.
Technically, it's always okay to write something without proof. It just becomes a problem when you want it to be taken seriously. Because, until proof and citations are provided, it's just opinion, speculation, or outright fiction.
Since the book is about a real person in history it could very well have been termed a "historical fiction". A historical fiction is based on facts (ie: Madame Clicquot's birth date and place, life styles in her time, etc.) Historical fictions are great fun to write for the author can take liberties to enhance the story in many different ways.
Good question. I have been thinking about writing a book about my grandfather. He fought in France during WW1. Back then he was a young man. I know he worked on a Queensland station for a while as a Jackaroo. He was born in England and came out to Australia as a fit lad hoping to improve his fortunes. When war broke out he joined the Australian light horse. He was badly wounded and sent to England where he was expected to die. Instead he recovered, married a bar maid and came back to Australia. There were three boys and one girl. My mother was the girl.
My problem? I only knew my grandfather as an old man who made toys out of wood. He was a carpenter by trade. I only have what has been passed down to me to build him up as a young man new to Australia and then new in an Australian uniform. I have a LOT of research to do but I will have to fill in a great many gaps based on supposition. I cannot ask him pertinent questions. He passed away when I was ten.
I will not have strict proof of a lot of things to do with his life but I should be able to put together a fitting enough profile based on what family can tell me plus diaries, etc.
I have come across authors who have come clean in introductions about how little they know in some areas and how they have gone about bridging such gaps. I think this is fair enough. Also it is fascinating in itself to read.
Rod, I so greatly appreciate the depth of your reply! I do hope that you decide to take on this adventure and write about your grandfather. I think it would far too sad to loose site of such an interesting man simply because he was not he. Best -
Thanks Graham. If I start the project I hope to finish by 2019. This would mark the year of the signing of the treaty of Versailles only a hundred years later. The treaty was signed in 1919.
I totally agree with well researched information to create an awesome book. Whenever I do this and I know the book or article is fiction and is based on the life of an individual or event, I make sure that I state that fact in the beginning of the publication. This is a great question. Thanks.
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