Really love this line, but it’s a pretty good article all told!
The trick is to minimize those liberties, and to make sure that when you’re writing about historical figures you “stay true to the spirit of that person”. This was the advice given to me by the late and great George Macdonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, whom I interviewed shortly before his death in 2008.
He claimed to have broken this rule only twice – with Otto von Bismarck, the architect of German unification, and Nicholas Ignatieff, a Russian adventurer and spy – and felt justified in doing so because the former “was a swine” and the latter “a pretty hard man” if not an arch-villain. A made-up protagonist, of course, gives the author the greatest licence, but even he or she must not stretch credulity too far.