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You are here: Home > Writing in Education > Writing at University > Writing in Practice > Current Issue > Vol. 6 > A Ghost in the Archive: Rewriting Perceval Landon’s "Thurnley Abbey” as Contemporary Historical Fiction
A Ghost in the Archive: Rewriting Perceval Landon’s "Thurnley Abbey” as Contemporary Historical Fiction
Author: Leanne Bibby
Leanne Bibby uses the prism of a ghost story’s setting to explore Roman Catholicism during the Reformation, examining fiction’s relationship to historical discourse and the idea of the archive.
Attachments: A Ghost in Archive.pdf

This article uses perspectives from cultural theory and my own writing practice to argue that contemporary historical fictions can function similarly to archives as the systems in which historical discourse operates, by containing and reframing real-life historical documents within invented narratives. I discuss my work-in-progress, a novella titled The Thorns, which rewrites Perceval Landon’s 1908 ghost story “Thurnley Abbey” and seeks to engage with one of its implied historical contexts: the fraught and often bloody history of Roman Catholicism in England, specifically during the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. I contextualise this writing project with detailed reference to literary and cultural theories of fiction’s relationship to historical discourse, specifically the idea of the archive itself, and describe some of the ways in which my novella engages with the histories behind the original text’s focus on representations of silence, death and fear resulting from a disavowed past.

historical fiction; archive; ghost; English Catholicism; Perceval Landon; Hayden White; Hilary Mantel; Caryl Phillips