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Title: A Secret Alchemy
Author: Darwin, Emma Lucie
ISNI:       0000 0000 0496 6866
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Secret Alchemy consists of my novel, A Secret Alchemy, and a critical commentary on the process and context of writing it. The novel reimagines the world of Elizabeth Woodville (14377-1492), the mother of the Princes in the Tower, and her brother Anthony Woodville (1442?-1483). In their voices, it tells their story from childhood, through Anthony's murder by Richard III and the disappearance of the Princes, to Elizabeth's old age. These two narrative strands intertwine with a third: Una Pryor, a modern bibliographer, is researching the Woodvilles' books. As she tries to save the family printing business, secrets, loves and rivalries from her own past reawaken, and interact with her experience of the Woodville!story, culminating in her realisation that to bring the Woodvilles alive she must write them as fiction. The commentary explores the particular issues which arise in fiction which is based on real historical figures, starting from the process of writing the novel but also embracing critical and theoretical issues and the work of other novelists. Following a discussion ofthe complex relationship of such fiction to the historical record, it examines how parallel narrative fiction such as A Secret Alchemy embodies that relationship. It then looks at voice, whose role as both medium and message makes questions of historical authenticity particularly complex. Finally these questions are brought together in discussing historical fiction as storytelling, in the context of narrative theory. Atwood states that it is in fiction that individual and collective memory and experience come together; the commentary proposes that historical fiction is unique in how it does so, by virtue of its double-duality: 'not only then, but also now,' and 'not only fiction but also history'. A Secret Alchemy was written under contract to Headline Review and it incorporated editorial changes, some of which are discussed here. It was published in November 2008, and in the US by Harper Perennial in June 2009.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available