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All editions sold worldwide are in English.

Medieval Underpants & Other Blunders

A Writer's (& Editor's) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common

 Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths [Third Edition]

Susanne Alleyn

A #1 Amazon Bestseller in Fiction Writing

This is not a book on how to write historical fiction. It is a book on how not to write historical fiction.

If you love history and you’re hard at work on your first historical novel, but you’re wondering if your medieval Irishmen would live on potatoes, if your 17th-century pirate would use a revolver, or if your hero would be able to offer Marie-Antoinette a box of chocolate bonbons . . .

(The answer to all these is “Absolutely not!”)

. . . then Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is the book for you.

Medieval Underpants will guide you through the factual mistakes that writers of historical fiction—both beginners and professionals—most often make, and show you how to avoid them. From fictional characters crossing streets that wouldn’t exist for another sixty (or two thousand) years, to South American foods on ancient Roman plates, to 1990s slang in the mouths of 1940s characters, Susanne Alleyn exposes the often hilarious, always painful goofs that turn up most frequently in fiction set in the past.

Alleyn stresses the hazards to writers of assuming too much about details of life in past centuries, providing numerous examples of mistakes that could easily have been avoided. She also explores commonly-confused topics such as the important difference between the British titles “Lord John Smith” and “John, Lord Smith” and why they’re not interchangeable, and provides simple guidelines for getting them right. In a wide assortment of chapters including Food and Plants; Travel; Guns; Money; Hygiene; Dialogue; Attitudes; Research; and, of course, Ladies' Underpants (there weren't any), she offers tips on how to avoid errors and anachronisms while continually reminding writers of the necessity of meticulous historical research.

"I’ve been writing historical fiction for several decades, and I found this book immediately useful. I wish it had been published long ago. Written with humour, knowledge and common sense. An essential!"

--Sandra Gulland, author, Mistress of the Sun and The Josephine B. Trilogy

"The single most useful book I've read on the craft of historical fiction. It's presented in a compulsively readable style that made it hard to put down. Riveting and beautifully logical, the book's mantra is never to assume you know something."

--Jessica Knauss, author, Law and Order in Medieval Spain: Alfonsine Legislation and the Cantigas de Santa María.

"What a great idea, and so well done! ... It's so easy to slip in an object not yet invented or read right over a term that shouldn't be there. ... Best of all is the practical information and advice for avoiding errors that newbies need to consider and experienced writers need to remember. I can't say enough about this book. It was helpful; it was entertaining; it was original. Great job!"

--Peg Herring, author, The Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries (historical) and The Dead Detective Mysteries

Buy any Spyderwort Press paperback new at and get the Kindle version for 99 cents or free via Amazon's Kindle MatchBook program. This offer is retroactive—if you already bought the paperback new at Amazon, you can still get the free or discounted eBook for your Kindle. Or buy the paperback as a gift for a friend and keep the eBook for yourself.

Trade Paperback and eBook

May 2015 (3rd edition)

230 pp

Paperback List: $12.99

eBook List: $4.99

Paperback ISBN-10: 151199696X

Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1511996969

EPUB eBook ISBN-13: 9781310013522

ASIN: B00958628C

An OAQ (Occasionally Asked Question): I have a previous edition of your Medieval Underpants. I see it's now in the Third Edition. Should I buy the new edition?

Susanne's Answer: That depends upon which edition you currently have. If you have the First Edition (2012), then yes, definitely; I've added lots of new material—often at the suggestion of readers—and an entire chapter since then (and have corrected a few errors I made). If you have the Second Edition (2013), then you may not need to shell out for the third unless you are obsessive about being totally up-to-date.

If you are a Kindle owner and bought your copy at Amazon, if you can figure out how to delete your current edition from your device and download the newest, updated version, go right ahead. If not (I've never been able to make that work), you will have to totally delete your copy of Medieval Underpants from your Kindle account/library and then purchase the new edition as a new book.

The unabridged bibliography:

Hundreds of titles of particular interest to

the writer of hiistorical fiction -

Free for all to copy or print

You are welcome to copy or print out the HF Research Bibliography from this printer-friendly page. You’ll find the unabridged list in the Third Edition eBook of Underpants but, for the sake of space, a significantly shortened list in the paperback. The most up-to-date list will always be right here.

If you have a favorite go-to book that you've used for your research that you don't see listed here, send me an email and I'll add it to the list.

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