writers 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
1,694 487
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

2
596 316
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
412 280
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
170 73
Mary Renault is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Mary Renault The Bull from the Sea, Fire from Heaven, The King Must Die

5
165 70
Hilary Mantel is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, A Place of Greater Safety

6
371 259
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip

7
577 349
Ken Follett is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
250 159
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
168 102
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
147 58
Umberto Eco is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anna Åhlin added Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

11
182 133
Walter Scott is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Walter Scott Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Monastery

12
38 3
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

13
236 140
Bernard Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
BeccaMcMaster added Bernard Cornwell The Winter King, The Fort, The bloody ground

14
101 31
Anya Seton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AKat added Anya Seton The Winthrop Woman, Dragonwyck, Avalon

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15
93 27
Sharon Penman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Carolyn Cash added Sharon Penman The Sunne in Splendour, Cruel as the grave, Here Be Dragons

16
233 168
James A. Michener is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
James A. Michener Hawaii, Texas, Tales of the South Pacific

17
234 193
Phillippa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Kym Parks added Phillippa Gregory

18
252 165
Patrick O'Brian is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Patrick O'Brian Desolation Island, The Hundred Days, Master and Commander

19
187 130
Robert Graves is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Robert Graves I, Claudius, Goodbye to All That

20
163 110
James Clavell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added James Clavell The Great Escape, To Sir, with Love

21
137 104
Leon Uris is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added Leon Uris Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Battle Cry, Exodus

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22
170 133
Collen McCullough is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added Collen McCullough

23
226 140
Barbara Erskine is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Gillian Jones added Barbara Erskine Encounters, Hiding from the Light, Midnight is a Lonely Place

24
76 44
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun

25
110 82
Rosemary Sutcliff is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Pam Thomas added Rosemary Sutcliff Sword of the Valiant, The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset

26
41 7
C. S. Forester is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Willow C. Arune added C. S. Forester Captain Horatio Hornblower, Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., The African Queen

27
59 45
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anna Åhlin added Isabel Allende La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna

28
121 109
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

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29
65 52
Winston Graham is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
pc4wheeler added Winston Graham The Spanish Armadas, Ross Poldark :POLDARK, Jeremy Poldark

30
34 16
Jack Whyte is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
J. Scott Kenney added Jack Whyte The Saxon Shore, The Skystone, The Eagle

31
69 42
Elizabeth Chadwick is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Sandra Perez Gluschankoff added Elizabeth Chadwick The Conquest, Shields of pride, Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion

32
97 75
Jean Plaidy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Algernon21 added Jean Plaidy

33
97 81
Edward Rutherfurd is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Edward Rutherfurd Russka, London, The Forest

34
16 2
C. J. Sansom is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Erica Beck added C. J. Sansom Sovereign, Winter in Madrid, Dissolution

35
84 107
Gore Vidal is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Gore Vidal Ben-Hur, Caligula, Myra Breckinridge

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36
44 38
Sigrid Undset is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Sigrid Undset The snake pit, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Cross

37
77 100
Arturo Pérez-Reverte is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added Arturo Pérez-Reverte Comanche Territory, The Fencing Master, The Club Dumas

38
15 4
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
74 90
Wilbur A. Smith is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
dougr added Wilbur A. Smith Shout at the Devil, Gold, A Time to Die

40
67 84
George MacDonald Fraser is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
George MacDonald Fraser Octopussy, The Four Musketeers, Red Sonja

41
107 111
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent

42
15 10
Naguib Mahfouz is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Ellen Callahan added Naguib Mahfouz Al-Tareeq al-Masdood, The Tough, Palace Walk

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43
28 42
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Buddenbrooks

44
37 42
Maurice Druon is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Agustin Baquero added Maurice Druon Five Miles to Midnight, La Louve de France, The Iron King

45
47 57
William Styron is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Konnoisseur411 added William Styron Sophie's Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Darkness Visible - Sophie's Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner.

46
10 4
Stendhal is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added Stendhal The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, Spicy food

47
8 2
Geoffrey Trease is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Estelle Wolfers added Geoffrey Trease Bows against the Barons, Elizabeth, Princess in Peril

48
10 5
Pearl S. Buck is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Erica Beck added Pearl S. Buck The Good Earth, Guide, Dragon Seed

49
100 110
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
79 110
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Diane Gummer added Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Queen of the Damned, Interview with the Vampire