Culture

The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time 

Book Keeper
Originally by
Updated August 19, 2019 27.5k votes 3.8k voters 52.7k views 106 items

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
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
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
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
Ken Follett is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip
6
Robert Louis Stevenson ... is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
Umberto Eco is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
James A. Michener is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Hawaii, Texas, Tales of the South Pacific
9
Robert Graves is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
I, Claudius, Goodbye to All That
10
Patrick O'Brian is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Desolation Island, The Hundred Days, Master and Commander
11
Colleen McCullough is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
AlfonsoVelascoSendra added The Thorn Birds, An Indecent Obsession, AN INDECENT OBSESSION
12
James Clavell is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added The Great Escape, To Sir, with Love
13
Sharon Penman is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
Hilary Mantel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added Bring Up the Bodies, Wolf Hall, A Place of Greater Safety
15
Leon Uris is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Lon Harris added Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Battle Cry, Exodus
16
Walter Scott is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Monastery
17
Philippa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Kym Parks added Meridon, Pirate Story, The Other Boleyn Girl
18
Mary Renault is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Arild Tørum added Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
20
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
2probb added The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, The Marble Faun
21
Georgette Heyer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Frederica, The Foundling, Regency Buck
22
Rosemary Sutcliff is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
Anna Åhlin added La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna
24
Bernard Cornwell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time
BeccaMcMaster added The Winter King, The Fort, The bloody ground
25
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