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Fiction and Truth: Francis Crozier and Sophy Cracroft

November 29, 2011

One must be careful in writing historical fiction, to be clear about what exists in the historical record, and what is imagined. Careful to state in introduction or foreword the boundaries of history and the frontier of the human spirit about to be uncovered and explored.

Michael Smith’s admirable biography “Captain Francis Crozier: Last Man Standing” provides the reader practically all there is to know about this man, including his doomed affection for Sophy Cracroft, his friendships with other polar explorers. Snippets of his personal letters give us insights into the state of his thinking, his feelings.

It is these letters that provide the springboard for imagination. Fictional correspondence reveals what might have been, what might have most desired. How each of the characters in my book “Frozen Heart: A Victorian Romance of Letters” (working title for the 2011 NaNoWriMo Winner) MIGHT have felt about one another.

And since they were in 1845 not so different from us in 2011, their fears and passions run as wildly as do ours, in sometimes contradictory directions. To depths they might not have wanted us to know, that they presumed to be confidential in the letters I had them write.

Such letters, the ones in fair copy that we read over their shoulders before the ink is dry, never existed. And yet through them we see these souls–Crozier, Sophy, John Franklin, Lady Jane, Fitzjames–in a light that would never have shone on them, if not for the magic of fiction.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 4:15 pm

    Letters, Letters, am glad U share with us.

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