Talking History Online: Down the rabbit hole: History and fiction writing

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Tuesday 20 April, 5.30pm – Down the rabbit hole: History and fiction writing

Fiction writers often draw on real events and people to inspire their stories. Many writers undertake extensive historical research as part of their craft. A story about the past can be made to come alive with the small details that immerse us in a time before our own. Where does the history stop and the fiction begin? What is it about the past that makes it such a good setting for spinning new narratives?

Our panel of writers (Emma Ashmere, Victoria Purman and Pip Williams) will discuss the role of history in their own work, and share their thoughts more broadly on the relationship of history and fiction.

This free public lecture is part of the History Trust’s Talking History series.

Lecture will commence at 5.30pm (ACDT) on Zoom. There will be a short Q&A following the lecture.


Emma Ashmere has published two books: Dreams They Forgot (Wakefield Press 2020); and The Floating Garden (shortlisted Small Press Network MUBA/ Book of the Year 2016). Her award-winning short stories have appeared in the Age, Overland, Griffith Review, NGVmagazine, Commonwealth Writers adda, and on three Brisbane CBD billboards. She has a PhD on the use of marginalised histories in fiction (La Trobe), a MA in creative writing (University of Adelaide), and helped research two Australian gardening history books (MUP) and Women & Empire (Routledge.) She lives in northern NSW.


Victoria Purman is an Australian and USA Today bestselling fiction author. Her bestselling The Land Girls was published in 2019. The Last of the Bonegilla Girls, a novel based on her mother’s postwar migration to Australia, was published in 2018. Her previous novel The Three Miss Allens became a USA Today bestseller in April 2019. The Women’s Pages, was published in September 2020. She is a regular guest at writers festivals, is a workshop presenter and was a judge in the fiction category for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.


Pip Williams was born in London, grew up in Sydney and now calls the Adelaide Hills home. She is co-author of the book Time Bomb: Work Rest and Play in Australia Today (New South Press, 2012) and in 2017 she wrote One Italian Summer, a memoir of her family’s travels in search of the good life, which was published by Affirm Press to wide acclaim. Pip has also published travel articles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry. In her debut novel The Dictionary of Lost Words she combines her talent for historical research with beautiful storytelling. Pip has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary and found a tale of missing words and the lives of women lived between the lines.