At first glance, History and English seem two studies diametrically opposed. One studies reality, and the other is fiction. Nevertheless, the two are intimately connected and interdependent.
Tolkien wrote much on the issue of subcreation. Man is made in the image of God, he said, and one of the ways he imitates God is in his ability to create things, be it art or stories or other things. This is why Tolkien wrote the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings; his creation was a prayer to honor the Lord, the Creator of all.
Visual art's relationship with the created material order parallels literature's relation to history. Both visual art and literature are meant to reflect reality through a lense, which is the perception of the artist or author, in order to accentuate different facets of God's creation and cause man to wonder at His beauty.
Good literature draws its power and nobility from history, just as a painting reflects the material world. History is God's fiction, and when man creates stories he subcreates based on God's stories.
We often think of history as a memorization of dates and dry facts, totally opposed to imagination and creativity. Yet, in reality it is the source of our ideas of drama, adventure, romance, suspense, and happy endings.
We're all characters from the mind of God.