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!

1
1,697 494
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
599 321
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
420 283
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
169 72
Hilary Mantel is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
172 75
Mary Renault is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
254 160
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
375 259
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip

8
584 351
Ken Follett is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
42 3
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
169 104
Georgette Heyer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Georgette Heyer Frederica, The Foundling, Regency Buck

11
151 61
Umberto Eco is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
186 133
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
241 141
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
104 32
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

15
239 169
James A. Michener is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
James A. Michener Hawaii, Texas, Tales of the South Pacific

16
95 29
Sharon Penman is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
193 130
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
238 195
Phillippa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Kym Parks added Phillippa Gregory

19
256 166
Patrick O'Brian is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Patrick O'Brian Desolation Island, The Hundred Days, Master and Commander

20
169 111
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
141 104
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

22
177 136
Collen McCullough is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added Collen McCullough

23
79 44
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun

24
227 142
Barbara Erskine is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
113 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
43 8
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
61 47
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
124 109
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
68 53
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
36 17
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
72 43
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
100 76
Jean Plaidy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Algernon21 added Jean Plaidy

33
100 82
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
18 3
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
86 110
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

36
79 101
Arturo Pérez-Reverte is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added Arturo Pérez-Reverte Comanche Territory, The Fencing Master, The Club Dumas

37
45 40
Sigrid Undset is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Sigrid Undset The snake pit, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Cross

38
17 5
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
71 84
George MacDonald Fraser is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
George MacDonald Fraser Octopussy, The Four Musketeers, Red Sonja

40
14 5
Pearl S. Buck is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Erica Beck added Pearl S. Buck The Good Earth, Guide, Dragon Seed

41
112 112
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
76 91
Wilbur A. Smith is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
31 43
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
12 5
Stendhal is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
17 12
Naguib Mahfouz is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Ellen Callahan added Naguib Mahfouz Al-Tareeq al-Masdood, The Tough, Palace Walk

46
38 43
Maurice Druon is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
49 59
William Styron is listed (or ranked) 47 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.

48
102 110
John Jakes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
John Jakes North and South, Heaven and Hell, Love and War

49
9 4
Geoffrey Trease is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Estelle Wolfers added Geoffrey Trease Bows against the Barons, Elizabeth, Princess in Peril

50
10 5
Steven Saylor is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added Steven Saylor The Judgement of Caesar, Roma, Rubicon