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Historical Fiction

50 Of The Best Historical Fiction Authors Writing Today

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Ann Foster

Staff Writer

Ann can often be found walking very slowly through the aisles of bookstores, making sure that nothing new has come out she doesn’t know about yet, and then eagerly telling people about them. She writes about women from history at, and about books, film, TV, and feminism at various other sites. She prefers her books to include at least three excellent plot twists, which is why she usually reads the end first. Twitter: @annfosterwriter

The magical thing about historical fiction is the way it truly makes you feel like you’re experiencing life in another era. The best historical fiction authors are able to combine fictional characters with real settings and events in a way that makes it all feel visceral and current.

Best historical fiction authors writing today

What do we mean by best historical fiction authors?

With countless amazing writers working in this genre, we went with the following criteria for our list:

  1. Does the author primarily write historical fiction, or do they write in numerous genres?
  2. Has the author published at least three works of historical fiction?
  3. Are the author’s historical novels award-winning and/or critically acclaimed and/or commercially successful?
  4. Are they still currently publishing new work?

Here are our picks for 50 of the best historical fiction authors writing today, in alphabetical order.

the dressmaker by kate alcottKate Alcott

Kate Alcott is the literary pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien. Her historical novels include The DressmakerThe Daring Ladies of Lowell, and A Touch of Stardust.





the clan of the cave bear by jean m auel cover imageJean M. Auel

Jean M. Auel is an American writer best known for her novels about people living in prehistoric eras. Her works include The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Mammoth Hunters, and The Land of Painted Caves.





annie dunne by sebastian barrySebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright and novelist. His historical novels include Annie DunneA Long Long Way, and Days Without End.





the other einstein marie benedictMarie Benedict

Marie Benedict is an American author of historical fiction. Her notable works include The Other Einstein, Carnegie’s Maid, and The Only Woman in the Room.





the aviator's wife by melanie benjaminMelanie Benjamin

Melanie Benjamin a pseudonym for the writer Melanie Hauser. Her historical novels include Alice I Have Been, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and The Aviator’s Wife.




letters from skye jessica brockmoleJessica Brockmole

Jessica Brockmole is the American author of historical novels including Letters from Skye, At the Edge of Summer, and Woman Enters Left.





the secret chord by geraldine brooksGeraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is an Australian American journalist and novelist. Her historical fiction includes MarchThe People of the Book, and The Secret Chord.





the winter crown elizabeth chadwickElizabeth Chadwick

Elizabeth Chadwick is a British author of historical novels, including The Scarlet Lion, The Summer Queen, and The Winter Crown.





girl with a pearl earring by tracy chevalier cover imageTracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is an American-British historical novelist. Her historical novels include Girl With A Pearl EarringAt the Edge of the Orchard, and New Boy.





the last kingdom bernard cornwellBernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is the English author best known for his novels about Richard Sharpe, beginning with Sharpe’s Rifles. Two of his other series are The Warlord Chronicles and The Saxon Chronicle Stories.




the wonder emma donoghueEmma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is an Irish Canadian author. Her works of historical fiction include The Wonder and Slammerkin.





in the name of the family sarah dunantSarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant is a British author whose works of historical fiction include The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts.





washington black esi edugyanEsi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan is the Canadian author of historical novels including The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Half Blood Blues, and Washington Black.





a column of fire ken follettKen Follett

Ken Follett is a British author of historical fiction including Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, and World Without End.





the memoirs of cleopatra by margaret georgeMargaret George

Margaret George is an American author of historical novels including Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I.





the last tudor philippa gregoryPhilippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is a British historian and author. Her works of historical fiction include The Other Boleyn Girl, The White Queen, and The Constant Princess.




water for elephants sara gruenSara Gruen

Sara Gruen is a Canadian-American writer of historical fiction including Water for ElephantsAt the Water’s Edge and Ape House.





the shadow queen sandra gullandSandra Gulland

Sandra Gulland is an American-born Canadian writer of historical novels including The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe and The Shadow Queen.





conqueror by conn igguldenConn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden is a British author of non-fiction and historical fiction. His historical fiction debut was The Gates of Rome, the first in what would become his five-part Emperor series about the life of Julius Caesar.




The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne KalogridisJeanne Kalogridis

Jeanne Kalogridis is an American author of historical novels including The Borgia Bride, The Devil’s Queen: A Novel of Catherine de’Medici, and The Orphan of Florence.





bellewether by susanna kearsleySusanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is a Canadian author and former museum curator, whose historical novels include The Winter Sea, A Desperate Fortune, and Bellewether.





the poisonwood bible barbara kingsolverBarbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver is an American author of historical novels including The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible, The Lacuna, and Unsheltered.





bring up the bodies hilary mantelHilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is an English writer whose historical novels include Wolf HallBring Up the Bodies, and A Place of Greater Safety.





witches of new york ami mckay
Ami McKay

Ami McKay is a Canadian author of historical fiction including The Birth House, The Virgin Cure, and The Witches of New York.




the paris wife paula mclain
Paula McLain

Paula McLain is an American author of historical fiction including The Paris Wife, Love and Ruin, and Circling the Sun.





a fine balance rohinton mistry
Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian author of historical novels including Such A Long Journey and A Fine Balance.






Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is an American writer and icon, whose novels of historical fiction include The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, and A Mercy.




warlight michael ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lanka–born Canadian writer whose historical novels include In the Skin of a Lion, The English Patient, Anil’s Ghost, and Warlight.





the alice network kate quinnKate Quinn

Kate Quinn is an American author whose works of historical fiction include The Alice NetworkMistress of Rome and The Serpent and the Pearl.





new york edward rutherfordEdward Rutherford

Edward Rutherfurd is a pen name for the English author Francis Edward Wintle. As Rutherford, his works of historical fiction include London: The Novel, New York: The Novel, and Paris: The Novel.




shanghai girls lisa seeLisa See

Lisa See is an American author whose historical novels include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.





the winter palace eve stachniakEva Stachniak

Eve Stachniak is a Polish-Canadian author whose works of historical fiction include The Chosen Maiden, The Winter Palace, and Empress of the Night.




The Twentieth Wife (Taj Mahal Trilogy #1) by Indu Sundaresan
Indu Sundaresan

Indu Sundaresan is an Indian American writer whose works of historical fiction include The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses, and Shadow Princess.





Citizens Creek by Lalita TademyLalita Tademy

Lalita Tademy is an American author, whose historical novels include Cane RiverRed River and Citizens Creek.





Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín is an Irish writer whose historical novels include Brooklyn, and The Testament of Mary.





rules of civility amor towles
Amor Towles

Amor Towles is an American writer of historical fiction including Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow.





the englishman's boy guy vanderhaegheGuy Vanderhaeghe

Guy Vanderhaeghe is a Canadian writer whose historical novels include The Englishman’s Boy, The Last Crossing, and A Good Man.





fingersmith sarah waters
Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is a Welsh writer whose historical novels include Fingersmith, Tipping the Velvet, and The Paying Guests.





anne boleyn alison weirAlison Weir

Alison Weir is a British historian and novelist whose historical novels include Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane GreyThe Marriage Game: A Novel of Elizabeth I, and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession.




summer wives beatriz williamsBeatriz Williams

Beatriz Williams is an American writer whose historical novels include Along the Infinite Sea, A Certain Age, and The Summer Wives.





the storms of war kate williams
Kate Williams

Kate Williams is a British historian and author, whose works of historical fiction include The Storms of War and The Edge of the Fall.


bonus! best Historical Fiction Authors: emerging

We can’t wait to see what these rising stars of historical fiction will write next!

LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author of Jam on the Vine

Tracy Borman, author of The King’s Witch

Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride

Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl

E.C. Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed

Vivien Shotwell, author of Vienna Nocturne

Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing

Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko

Kate Worsley, author of She Rises


Can’t get enough historical fiction? We’re here to help! Check out our top 50 historical fiction books that everyone should read.