âHe said, âItâs like pornography to them â they think itâs shameful, but they canât wait to get hold of it.â
âWeâve moved on since then. Enlightened historians are less prejudiced about fiction, and realise it doesnât just mean âhistorical romance.â
âAnd writers of all kind are more aware of the potential deception of the smooth narrative.
âWhen the reader of a story says, âWhich bits of this are true?â he must ask that question of the historian, as well as the novelist: increasingly, the historian is ready for the challenge.â
Readers, she argued, are not âvictims who need protectionâ, but able to read novels without spoiling history for themselves.
Hilary Mantelâs five Reith Lectures, entitled Resurrection: The Art And Craft, will air on BBC Radio 4 from Tuesday, June 13 at 9am.