As novelists become increasingly interested in history as fiction and fiction as history, this study is designed to redraw the map of the boundaries of modern fiction. In her opening essays - "Fathers", "Forefathers" and "Ancestors" - the author considers the renaissance of the historical novel. She discusses in particular the novel of wartime experience; the surprising variety of distant pasts that British writers have invented; and the new "Darwinian novel", stimulated in part by the discovery of DNA. These afford new readings of writers from Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green to Anthony Burgess, William Golding and Muriel Spark, and other contemporary authors, including Penelope Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, John Fuller, Hilary Mantel and Pat Barker. Byatt also offers an insight into her own translation of historical fact into fiction in the two novellas which make up "Angels and Insects", while in "Old Stories, New Forms", she explores the recent European revival of interest in myth, folktale and fairytale.