The Best Historical Fiction Writers of All Time

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!
Photo: flickr / CC0
Ranked by
  • Leo Tolstoy
    154 votes
    Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
  • Diana Gabaldon
    1,628 votes
    Outlander, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Voyager
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
    483 votes
    Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, The Master of Ballantrae
  • Charles Dickens
    818 votes
    A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol
  • Bernard Cornwell
    489 votes
    The Winter King, The Fort, The bloody ground
  • Umberto Eco
    310 votes
    The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana