books The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time  

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Best historical novelists in the world manage to combine a vast knowledge of history with compelling storylines, taking the reader on a journey through time. Putting together a comprehensive list of historical writers is a daunting task, primarily because actual 'historical novels' can include historical fiction, fantasy, romance, and alternate history novels. I've listed what I believe are some of the greatest historical novel writers of all-time here, but I'm sure I've left off far too many. I'm counting on the community of historical novel fans, here. Vote for your favorites (or vote down your least favorites) and, if you know of an historical novelists that isn't on the list, add it!

I've tried to incorporate a wide variety of the best historical novelists on this list: Those authors whose works were penned hundreds of years ago, and more modern writers as well. From the brilliance of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens to the great modern historical writers like Ken Follett, I've listed as many big names as I can. These authors have written some of the best historical fiction books of all time. Some of the authors on this list are winners of, or nominees for, the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, including David Mitchell ('A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet') and Robert Harris ('Fatherland,' 'Enigma,' 'Lustrum'). The 'Blue Ribbon' award is given to authors who first publish in either the UK or Ireland.

Who are the best historical novelists of all time? Take a look at this history authors list and see for yourself.

Whether you're a longtime fan of historical novels or a newbie just getting started, hopefully this list can be a guide to help you find new historical writers and books that you'll enjoy! I'm certain I've missed some big names, though, so again, add them to the list. Avid readers might also enjoy these lists of the best fantasy authors, crime authors and young adult authors!
list ordered by

1
+ - 1,677 466
Diana Gabaldon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Diana Gabaldon Outlander, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Voyager

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2
+ - 578 311
Dorothy Dunnett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Dorothy Dunnett Scales of Gold, The disorderly knights, Race of Scorpions

3
+ - 398 273
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol

4
+ - 165 68
Mary Renault is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Mary Renault The Bull from the Sea, Fire from Heaven, The King Must Die

5
+ - 157 66
Hilary Mantel is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, A Place of Greater Safety

6
+ - 559 344
Ken Follett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Ken Follett The Pillars of the Earth, Eye of the Needle, Winter of the World

7
+ - 243 158
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, The Master of Ballantrae

8
+ - 358 259
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip

9
+ - 165 98
Georgette Heyer is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Georgette Heyer Frederica, The Foundling, Regency Buck

10
+ - 140 56
Umberto Eco is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

11
+ - 98 30
Anya Seton is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anya Seton The Winthrop Woman, Dragonwyck, Avalon

12
+ - 177 133
Walter Scott is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Walter Scott Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Monastery

13
+ - 89 25
Sharon Penman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Sharon Penman The Sunne in Splendour, Cruel as the grave, Here Be Dragons

14
+ - 226 190
Phillippa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time

15
+ - 218 138
Bernard Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Bernard Cornwell The Winter King, The Fort, The bloody ground

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16
+ - 245 165
Patrick O'Brian is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Patrick O'Brian Desolation Island, The Hundred Days, Master and Commander

17
+ - 184 130
Robert Graves is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Robert Graves I, Claudius, Goodbye to All That

18
+ - 220 166
James A. Michener is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
James A. Michener Hawaii, Texas, Tales of the South Pacific

19
+ - 133 103
Leon Uris is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Leon Uris Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Battle Cry, Exodus

20
+ - 151 110
James Clavell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
James Clavell The Great Escape, To Sir, with Love

21
+ - 164 131
Collen McCullough is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time

22
+ - 224 139
Barbara Erskine is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Barbara Erskine Encounters, Hiding from the Light, Midnight is a Lonely Place

23
+ - 28 3
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

24
+ - 109 81
Rosemary Sutcliff is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Rosemary Sutcliff Sword of the Valiant, The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset

25
+ - 72 44
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun

26
+ - 36 7
C. S. Forester is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
C. S. Forester Captain Horatio Hornblower, Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., The African Queen

27
+ - 57 44
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Isabel Allende La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna

28
+ - 118 109
Herman Wouk is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Herman Wouk The Winds of War, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War

29
+ - 65 50
Winston Graham is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Winston Graham The Spanish Armadas, Ross Poldark :POLDARK, Jeremy Poldark

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30
+ - 68 41
Elizabeth Chadwick is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Elizabeth Chadwick The Conquest, Shields of pride, Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion

31
+ - 29 16
Jack Whyte is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Jack Whyte The Saxon Shore, The Skystone, The Eagle

32
+ - 88 72
Jean Plaidy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Jean Plaidy

33
+ - 44 37
Sigrid Undset is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Sigrid Undset The snake pit, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Cross

34
+ - 80 107
Gore Vidal is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Gore Vidal Ben-Hur, Caligula, Myra Breckinridge

35
+ - 90 80
Edward Rutherfurd is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Edward Rutherfurd Russka, London, The Forest

36
+ - 74 100
Arturo Pérez-Reverte is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arturo Pérez-Reverte Comanche Territory, The Fencing Master, The Club Dumas

37
+ - 12 3
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Gabriel García Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Autumn of the Patriarch

38
+ - 10 1
C. J. Sansom is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
C. J. Sansom Sovereign, Winter in Madrid, Dissolution

39
+ - 36 41
Maurice Druon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Maurice Druon Five Miles to Midnight, La Louve de France, The Iron King

40
+ - 46 56
William Styron is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
William Styron Sophie's Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Darkness Visible - Sophie's Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner.

41
+ - 9 3
Stendhal is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Stendhal The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, Spicy food

42
+ - 26 40
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Buddenbrooks

43
+ - 68 88
Wilbur A. Smith is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Wilbur A. Smith Shout at the Devil, Gold, A Time to Die

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44
+ - 12 8
Naguib Mahfouz is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Naguib Mahfouz Al-Tareeq al-Masdood, The Tough, Palace Walk

45
+ - 77 105
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Queen of the Damned, Interview with the Vampire

46
+ - 61 82
George MacDonald Fraser is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
George MacDonald Fraser Octopussy, The Four Musketeers, Red Sonja

47
+ - 99 110
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent

48
+ - 7 2
Geoffrey Trease is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Geoffrey Trease Bows against the Barons, Elizabeth, Princess in Peril

49
+ - 98 109
John Jakes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
John Jakes North and South, Heaven and Hell, Love and War

50
+ - 16 16
Norah Lofts is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Norah Lofts 7 Women, The Lost Queen, You're Best Alone