Code Name Verity: Author Elizabeth Wein's 2012 Fiction Honor Speech

Code Name VerityAs this year’s Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction winners show, we’re in the vanguard of a kind of golden age of historical fiction. We’re finally escaping the image that anything “historical” is remote and finished. Contemporary historical fiction brings the past into the present and makes it relevant.

Ultimately, no matter how extensive our research, what makes these stories work is that they pull the reader in and make the past accessible — make it ours. Put us there.

The bar for accurate facts and an accessible story keeps being raised.

A month ago I was at the eighth European Summer School at Ravensbrück in Germany, held on the site of the former women’s concentration camp by the same name. I was apprehensive about being there for many reasons, the least of which is that the accommodation is in the former SS guards’ housing. What I was most worried about, though, is the fact that I am writing fiction about this camp, and one of the things I deeply doubt is my authority in attempting to bear witness to this place. But on the very first day of the seminar, one of the organizers told us, “Take your own personal expertise very seriously.”

Thank you for confirming that I can take my expertise seriously — for holding Code Name Verity up to the light with these other phenomenal BGHB Award–winning books.

Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is the author of Code Name Verity, a 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and Rose Under Fire, a 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book. Her most recent novel is Stateless (Little, Brown, 2023), and she co-wrote the 2024 nonfiction book American Wings (Putnam).

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