Not too long ago, my husband learned that his great grandfather had travelled the Trans-Siberian railway at the turn of the last century (just before the Tsar was deposed by the Russian Revolution) to observe birds who made the arduous journey from Russia to Australia as they migrated each year. As a writer of historical fiction, I can only imagine what it must have been like to make this journey at such a pivotal time in Russian history. Not only do I wish I had met Tim’s great grandfather, or that someone had recorded his memories (no one did, unfortunately), but that I also somehow had the ability to go back in time and experience a journey such as this first-hand.
Anyone who’s read my books, knows that I think the early 20th century would have been a fascinating era to live through. On the cusp of what we would consider a ‘modern’ way of life, you would have been able to witness the end of the ‘Belle Epoque’ and the dawn of an era that was both transformative as well as tragic (at the time you could never have imagined the tragedy of two world wars). When I write I try to immerse myself in first hand accounts so I can get the full sensory experience – but those (obviously) cannot compare to actually living through it.
Part of why I love writing historical books is the opportunity to vicariously experience history and I have an exceptionally long list of ‘journeys’ from history I would have loved to have witnessed/been a part of. These include traveling the Trans-Siberian railway in the early 1900s. I would also love to enjoy the luxury of a first-class ocean liner voyage from England to America in the 1910s (though not aboard the Titanic, obviously!). A train journey across India at this time would have also been fascinating.
Even if you don’t write historical fiction I’m sure most of you have dreamed of taking some voyage in the past – something that captured your imagination – something that would have been so unlike the travel we undertake today. So TKZers, if you had the chance to go back in time and make a journey, what kind of journey would that be and why?