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
1,699 496
Diana Gabaldon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Outlander, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Voyager

2
600 323
Dorothy Dunnett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Scales of Gold, The disorderly knights, Race of Scorpions

3
422 283
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol

4
171 72
Hilary Mantel is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Bring Up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, A Place of Greater Safety

5
174 76
Mary Renault is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added The Bull from the Sea, Fire from Heaven, The King Must Die

6
377 259
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip

7
254 160
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, The Master of Ballantrae

8
584 353
Ken Follett is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
The Pillars of the Earth, Eye of the Needle, Winter of the World

9
44 3
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

10
170 105
Georgette Heyer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Frederica, The Foundling, Regency Buck

11
152 61
Umberto Eco is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anna Åhlin added The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

12
186 134
Walter Scott is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Monastery

13
241 143
Bernard Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
BeccaMcMaster added The Winter King, The Fort, The bloody ground

14
104 33
Anya Seton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AKat added The Winthrop Woman, Dragonwyck, Avalon

15
196 130
Robert Graves is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
I, Claudius, Goodbye to All That

16
239 170
James A. Michener is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Hawaii, Texas, Tales of the South Pacific

17
258 166
Patrick O'Brian is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Desolation Island, The Hundred Days, Master and Commander

18
95 30
Sharon Penman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Carolyn Cash added The Sunne in Splendour, Cruel as the grave, Here Be Dragons

19
238 196
Phillippa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Kym Parks added

20
171 112
James Clavell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added The Great Escape, To Sir, with Love

21
142 104
Leon Uris is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Battle Cry, Exodus

22
177 137
Collen McCullough is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added

23
79 45
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun

24
114 82
Rosemary Sutcliff is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Pam Thomas added Sword of the Valiant, The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset

25
227 143
Barbara Erskine is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Gillian Jones added Encounters, Hiding from the Light, Midnight is a Lonely Place

26
44 8
C. S. Forester is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Willow C. Arune added Captain Horatio Hornblower, Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., The African Queen

27
62 47
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anna Åhlin added La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna

28
125 109
Herman Wouk is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
The Winds of War, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War

29
68 54
Winston Graham is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
pc4wheeler added 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 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 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
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 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
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 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 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
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
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 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
Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent

42
13 5
Stendhal is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, Spicy food

43
76 92
Wilbur A. Smith is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
dougr added Shout at the Devil, Gold, A Time to Die

44
31 43
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, Buddenbrooks

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

46
50 59
William Styron is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Konnoisseur411 added Sophie's Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Darkness Visible - Sophie's Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner.

47
38 43
Maurice Druon is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Agustin Baquero added Five Miles to Midnight, La Louve de France, The Iron King

48
10 4
Geoffrey Trease is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Estelle Wolfers added Bows against the Barons, Elizabeth, Princess in Peril

49
102 111
John Jakes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
North and South, Heaven and Hell, Love and War

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