Benjamin Disraeli wrote his 1845 novel Sybil to appeal to the aristocracy to become more politically involved and so heal the breach between what one of his characters famously called the ‘Two Nations’. If not the first, Sybil was certainly one of the most famous instances in which fiction was used for political ends.
Since Disraeli’s time politicians of various stripes have turned their hand to fiction with a political themes – amongst them being Hilaire Belloc, Ellen Wilkinson, William Feinburgh, Maurice Edelman, Douglas Hurd, Edwina Currie and Jeffrey Archer. Not all may have had the same serious purpose as Disraeli; but they each had something to say about politics.
Fictions about politics need not be written by politicians, of course, and various professional writers have turned to political themes. It is arguable that such fictions are more effective than conventional political speeches – after all, who listens to those without yawning? Fiction gets into readers’ minds in ways of which a politician can only dream.
Ballots and Bullets has published a number of posts which have looked at the relationship between fiction and politics in different ways, reflecting how important some of us at Nottingham think the subject to be. Here are just some contributions from the recent past:
Lucy Sargisson on dystopias.
Steven Fielding on Kay Burley’s new potboiler.
Chris Pierson on the cartoon strip Fuzzy.
Steven Fielding on Edgar Wallace’s Four Just Men.