A survey of the historical novels of Thackeray, Dickens,
Kingsley, George Eliot, Meredith and Pater leads one to realise the
diversity possible within the departments of historical fiction.
These differ in important respects from each other and from their
predecessors in this genre. Unfortunately none of them has left
set prefaces, like those of Scott and Lytton, discussing his views
on the blending of history and fiction and his aims. We have to
infer from incidental remarks and their finished works what their
various conceptions of historical fiction were.
When they sat down to write historical novels, it is certain
that they were faced with the same problems as exercised the minds
of Scott and Lytton, namely the rel ^.tion of the historical and the
fictitious, and the means of suggesting the historical background;
but these problems must have appeared in a different form for them.
They had behind them a large body of historical fiction, and if there
were not fairly definite conventions that could be followed easily,
and if an historical novel could not exactly be written to
prescription, there were at least enough examples produced to make
the general pattern of the historical novel pretty familiar.
Victorian novelists had not like Scott to decide what an historical
novel should be.