On Popularity Cycles

Those of you who read Kim Stanley Robinson’s tirade against the Booker Prize (reported here) may remember that he chastised the Booker jury for being interested mainly in historical fiction. Following this thread, Jerome de Groot has an interesting post up at The Guardian about the popularity of historical fiction with the Literati. This caught my eye:

Sometime during the later 20th century, though, historical writing became marginalised. Writers thought writing about history was something only romance novelists did, and studiously avoided anything that looked like genre fiction; the ghosts of Georgette Heyer, Catherine Cookson and Jean Plaidy loomed large. Historical writing became associated with military history – like those novels written by Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O’Brian, CS Forester – or conspiracy thrillers. Literary novelists disdained such practice, preferring to see themselves as apart from genre fiction writers.

So not that long ago historical fiction was “genre”, and presumably only read by strange people who go to re-enactment events and dress up in costumes. Now it dominates the Booker. Strange how fashions change.