For me, historical fiction is anything that incorporates in some way both actual and imagined figures shown in their historical context. The actual historical figure could be either a minor or major character. Either way, I am happy! In terms of the time frames, I like to think that anything that happened more than two generations ago could be classified as historical fiction. For example, for me, a novel written about events in WWII would count as HF. Having said that, I do think that the date that a book was published should be taken into consideration as well. I don't think a book that was written say in the late 1800's about the late 1800's is historical fiction if I am reading it now, because the author wouldn't necessarily have put a lot of time into writing about life, clothes, food etc.
I am not very picky on what historical fiction is. I took history in university, so you would think that would be otherwise, but I just read historical fiction for the enjoyment level and less for the accurate facts. Historical fiction is supposed to be fiction taking place 100 years or more ago, but I am pretty flexible with that. I think that any novel set in the past with a true historical background can be considered historical fiction. I do agree with Marg, though, a novel written in the past about the time it was written during is not historical fiction for me. They are just writing about the times like writers of today are writing about our times. Many people do not like historical fiction that does not centre itself around actual historical figures, but I am very flexible about that. It is more about the book than the character. Some books with a person that did not actually exist in history as the main character are very good reads, and sometimes they are not. I am pretty flexible, as you can see, as I read historical fantasy and like flexibility in writing.
I consider anything written between 50-100 years after the Authors lifetime to be historical fiction. I also feel that the story should either have a major historical event or a historical figure, though they do not need to be the main focus and sometimes it is better when they aren't the main focus as it gives the author more flexibility in character development.
I think Historical Fiction is a story of fiction that recreates a particular period in the past and makes it the background of the action. I like it when it's an accurate portrayal of all the aspects of the society of the time and if we can have some real people as characters all the better, I like to think of historical fiction as filling in the holes of History. We will never know if it happened like that but it's a possibility!
I agree that a writer writing about it's own time it's not to be considered HF but an 19th century author writing about the 15th century enters my definition of what is Historical Fiction.
Stephanie Says:If I just say, "Ditto", will that do?? No really, to me Historical Fiction is a STORY about the past. I like to read about History, but Historical fiction just adds more pizazz! It tells more about feelings and thoughts, which is something you can't get by picking up a history text. I like knowing back-stories, which is probably why this genre appeals to me.
As far as dates go, I do agree that to be labeled Historical Fiction, a book has to be written about a previous time in history.
What about you? How do you define Historical Fiction?