These essays by some of the most distinguished historians and literary scholars in the English-speaking world explore the overlap, interplay, and interaction between supposedly truthful history and fact-based fiction in British writing from the Tudor period to the Enlightenment. Despite the many theoretical questions posed, the discussions primarily focus on concrete works, including those of Thomas More, John Foxe, Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, and Edward Gibbon.


1. Introduction
Donald Kelley and David Harris Sacks

2. Example and Truth: Deggory Wheare and the Ars Historica
J. H. M. Salmon

3. Truth, Lies and Fiction in Sixteenth-Century Protestant Historiography
Patrick Collinson

4. Thomas More and the English Renaissance: History and Fiction in Utopia
Joseph Levine

5. Ancestral and Antiquarian: Little Crosby and Early Modern Historical Culture
Daniel Woolf

6. Murder in Faversham: Holinshed’s Impertinent History
Richard Helgerson

7. Foul, His Wife, the Mayor, and Foul’s Mare: Anecdote in Tudor Historiography
Annabel Patterson

8. Thomas Hobbes’ Machiavellian Moments
David Wooton

9. The Background of Hobbes’ Behemoth
Fritz Levy

10. Leviathan, Mythic History, and Natural Historiography
Patricia Springborg

11. Adam Smith and the History of Private Life
Mark Phillips

12. Protesting Fiction, Constructing History
Paul Hunter

13. Contemplative Heroes and Gibbon’s Historical Imagination
Patricia Craddock

14. Experience, Truth, and Natural History in Early English Gardening Books
Rebecca Bushnell


“The essays in The Historical Imagination in every instance bring to light elements of authorship that are worth pondering. Inherited notions are successfully challenged.… the remarkable thing about the inception of this project: the singular good sense of bringing together a group of eminent writers to reassess criteria and conventions, particularly of historical authority, in a time of historiographical revolution. The editors are to be commended.”—William Rockett, 16th Century Journal

“In this intelligent, engaging, and timely essay collection from the disciplines of both history and English, editors Donald R. Kelley and David Harris Sacks have compiled compelling pictures of the various relationships that exist between the fields of history and fiction in early modern Britain. In its detailed attention to the various representations of truth within imaginative writing, the collection represents a significant addition to the ever-growing study of early modern British culture, one that should be of great aid to scholars in the field and their students for some time.”—Gregory J. Underwood, History

“This collection contains much that is new and even surprising, which makes it a welcome addition to the literature on the early modern historical imagination.”—Timothy Lang, American Historical Review