How does history and literature overlap?

History and literature overlap to a great deal, and this is perhaps best summed up in two ways: First, history is really little more than the study of those who wrote. Though oral history (the passing down of events by word of mouth) has a place in historical study, the majority of what historians have used to piece together the events of human past is written material. If a group of people dissolves or disappears, and they left no written records, then a great deal of evidence about their lives will be lost.

Second, a lot of writing that was made to be creative literature (as opposed to, say, strict history or written economic records) serves to help us piece together the history of a nation or people. For example, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales was written as creative literature, but the characters in it tell us about the way that the English people viewed certain members of society. Also, a piece of literature like the Ramayana is not viewed as a true history, however it helps us to piece together bits of historical information anyway.