Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction can be an ambiguous term: frequently it is used as a synonym for describing the historical novel; however, the term can be applied to works in other narrative formats, such as those in the performing and visual arts like theatre, opera, cinema, television, comics, and graphic novels.
An essential element of historical fiction is a setting from history. In this setting, historical fiction frequently portrays the manners and social conditions of the persons or times presented in the story and pays attention to other precise period details. Authors frequently choose to explore historical figures through these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals would have responded to their environments. Some subgenres of historical fiction, such as alternate history or historical fantasy, deliberately insert speculative or ahistorical elements into the work; however, other works of historical fiction will be criticized for this lack of "authenticity" because of readerly or generic expectations. This tension between historical authenticity, or Historicity, and fiction frequently becomes a point of commentary for readers and popular critics, while scholarly criticism frequently goes beyond this commentary, investigating the genre for it's other thematic and critical interests.
Historical fiction as the genre familiar to readers of contemporary western literature has its foundations in the works of Sir Walter Scott and his contemporaries in other national literatures of the early 19th century, such as Victor Hugo, James Fenimore Cooper and Leo Tolstoy. However, the melding of "historical" and "fiction" in individual works of literature has a long tradition in most cultures; both western traditions, as early as Ancient Greek and Roman literature, as well as eastern, oral, and folk traditions produced epics, novels, plays and other fictional works describing the historical for contemporary audiences.
- 1 Historical novel
- 1.1 Definitions
- 1.2 History of the genre
- 1.3 Connection to nationalism
- 1.4 The influence of the historical novel on society
- 1.5 The historical novel as a commentator on society
- 1.6 Historical events as a backdrop
- 1.7 Historical accuracy
- 1.8 Theory and criticism
- 2 Subgenres of the historical novel
- 3 Historical fiction in performing and visual arts
- 4 List of historical fiction by time period
- 4.1 Novels
- 4.1.1 Set in Prehistory (c.30,000 B.C.-3000 B.C.)
- 4.1.2 Set in Classical Greece, Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, etc. (c.2000 B.C. - 500 A.D.)
- 4.1.3 Set in the Middle Ages (c.500 A.D.-1500 A.D.)
- 4.1.4 Set in the Early Modern Period (c.1500 A.D.-1760 A.D.)
- 4.1.5 Set during the Industrial Revolution and Napoleonic Era (c.1760 A.D.-1840 A.D.)
- 4.2 Theatre
- 4.3 Opera
- 4.4 Film
- 4.5 Comics
- 4.1 Novels
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Definitions vary greatly. On the one hand The Historical Novel Society defines the genre as works "written at least fifty years after the events described", whilst on the other hand critic Sarah Johnson delineates such novels as "set before the middle of the last [20th] century […] in which the author is writing from research rather than personal experience." Then again Lynda Adamson, in her preface to the bibliographic reference work World Historical Fiction, states that while a "generally accepted definition" for the historical novel is a novel "about a time period at least 25 years before it was written", she also suggests that some people read novels written in the past, like those of Jane Austen (1775 – 1817), as if they were historical novels.
History of the genre
Historical prose fiction has a long tradition in world literature. All of the Four Classics of Chinese literature were set in the past: Shi Nai'an's 14th-century Water Margin concerns 12th-century outlaws; Luo Guanzhong's 14th-century Romance of the Three Kingdoms concerns the 3rd-century wars which ended the Han Dynasty; Wu Cheng'en's 16th-century Journey to the West concerns the 7th-century Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang; and Cao Xueqin's 18th-century Dream of the Red Chamber concerns the decline and fall of a great family during the reigns of the recent emperors. Classical Greek novelists were also "very fond of writing novels about people and places of the past". The Iliad has been described as historic fiction, since it treats historic events, although its genre is generally considered epic poetry. The Tale of Genji (ca. 1000 AD) is a fictionalized account of Japanese court life and its author asserted that her work could present a "fuller and therefore 'truer'" version of history.
One of the earliest examples of the historical novel in Europe is La Princesse de Clèves, a French novel which was published anonymously in March 1678. It is regarded by many as the beginning of the modern tradition of the psychological novel, and as a great classic work. Its author is generally held to be Madame de La Fayette. The action takes place between October 1558 and November 1559 at the royal court of Henry II of France. The novel recreates that era with remarkable precision. Nearly every character – except the heroine – is a historical figure. Events and intrigues unfold with great faithfulness to documentary record. In the United Kingdom the historical novel "appears to have developed" from La Princesse de Clèves, "and then via the Gothic novel". It then rose to prominence in Europe during the early 19th century as part of the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment, especially through the influence of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, whose works were immensely popular throughout Europe, even though Jane Porter's 1803 novel Thaddeus of Warsaw is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel in English and went through at least 84 editions, including translation into French and German, The first true historical novel in English was in fact Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent (1800).
In the 20th-century György Lukács argued that Scott was the first fiction writer who saw history not just as a convenient frame in which to stage a contemporary narrative, but rather as a distinct social and cultural setting. Scott's Scottish novels such as Waverley (1814) and Rob Roy (1817) focused upon a middling character who sits at the intersection of various social groups in order to explore the development of society through conflict. Ivanhoe (1820) gained credit for renewing interest in the Middle Ages.
In the United States, James Fenimore Cooper was a prominent author of historical novels who was influenced by Scott. His most famous novel is The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826), the second book of the Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy. The Last of the Mohicans is set in 1757, during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years' War), when France and Great Britain battled for control of North America. The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is perhaps the most famous 19th-century American historical novel. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.
The Betrothed (1827) by Alessandro Manzoni, It has been called the most famous and widely read novel of the Italian language. The Betrothed was inspired by Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Set in northern Italy in 1628, during the oppressive years under Spanish rule, it is sometimes seen as a veiled attack on Austria, which controlled the region at the time the novel was written.
Many well-known writers from the United Kingdom published historical novels in the 19th-century, including Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, George Eliot, Romola, Charles Kingsley Westward Ho and Hereward the Wake. The Trumpet-Major (1880) is Thomas Hardy's only historical novel, and is set in Weymouth during the Napoleonic wars; when the town was then anxious about the possibility of invasion by Napoleon.
In French literature, the most prominent inheritor of Scott's style of the historical novel was Balzac. Although the bulk of Balzac's La Comédie Humaine takes place during the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy, there are several novels which take place during the French Revolution and others which take place in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, including About Catherine de Medici and The Elixir of Long Life. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) furnishes another 19th-century example of the romantic-historical novel. Victor Hugo began writing The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed to be replaced by new buildings, or defaced by replacement of parts of buildings in a newer style. The action takes place in 1482 and the title refers to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on which the story is centred. Alexandre Dumas is another popular French writer of historical fiction, whose works have been translated into nearly 100 languages. These include The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.
Tolstoy incorporated extensive historical research into War and Peace. A veteran of the Crimean War, Tolstoy was quite critical of standard history, especially the standards of military history, in War and Peace. Tolstoy read all the standard histories available in Russian and French about the Napoleonic Wars and combined more traditional historical writing with the novel form. He explains at the start of the novel's third volume his own views on how history ought to be written. His aim was to blur the line between fiction and history, in order to get closer to the truth, as he states in Volume II. The novel is set 60 years earlier than when Tolstoy wrote it, "in the days of our grandfathers," as he puts it. He had spoken with people who had lived through war during the French invasion of Russia in 1812, so the book is also, in part, accurate ethnography fictionalized. He read letters, journals, autobiographical and biographical materials pertaining to Napoleon and the dozens of other historical characters in the novel. There are approximately 160 real persons named or referred to in War and Peace.
A major 20th-century example of this genre is Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks (1901). This chronicles the decline of a wealthy north German merchant family over the course of four generations, incidentally portraying the manner of life and mores of the Hanseatic bourgeoisie in the years from 1835 to 1877. Mann drew deeply from the history of his own family, the Mann family of Lübeck, and their milieu. This was Mann's first novel, and with with the publication of the 2nd edition in 1903, Buddenbrooks became a major literary success. The work led to a Nobel Prize in Literature for Mann in 1929; although the Nobel award generally recognises an author's body of work, the Swedish Academy's citation for Mann identified "his great novel Buddenbrooks" as the principal reason for his prize. Mann also wrote, between 1926 and 1943, a four-part novel Joseph and His Brothers. In it Mann retells the familiar biblical stories of Genesis, from Jacob to Joseph (chapters 27–50), setting it in the historical context of the reign of Akhenaten (1353–1336 BC) in ancient Egypt.
Robert Graves wrote several popular historical novels, including I, Claudius, King Jesus, The Golden Fleece and Count Belisarius. Other significant British novelists include Georgette Heyer, Naomi Mitchison, and Mary Renault. Heyer essentially established the historical romance genre and its sub genre Regency romance, which inspired by Jane Austen. To ensure accuracy, Heyer collected reference works and kept detailed notes on all aspects of Regency life. While some critics thought the novels were too detailed, others considered the level of detail to be Heyer's greatest asset; Heyer even recreated William the Conqueror's crossing into England for her novel The Conqueror. Naomi Mitchison's Her finest novel The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) is regarded by some as the best historical novel of the 20th century. Mary Renault is best known for her historical novels set in Ancient Greece. In addition to vivid fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander. The Siege of Krishnapur (1973) by J. G. Farrell has been described as an "outstanding novel". Inspired by events such as the sieges of Cawnpore and Lucknow, the book details the siege of a fictional Indian town, Krishnapur, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 from the perspective of the British residents. The main characters find themselves subject to the increasing strictures and deprivation of the siege, which reverses the "normal" structure of life where Europeans govern Asian subjects. The absurdity of the class system in a town no one can leave becomes a source of comic invention, though the text is serious in intent and tone.
Though the genre has evolved since its inception, the historical novel remains popular with authors and readers to this day and bestsellers include Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series, Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, and Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. A development in British and Irish writing in the past 25 years has been the renewed interest in the First World War. Works include William Boyd's An Ice-Cream War; Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and The Girl at the Lion d'Or (concerned with the War's consequences); Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy and Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way. William Golding wrote a number of historical novels. The Inheritors (1955) is set in prehistoric times and shows "new people" (generally identified with Homo sapiens sapiens), triumphing over a gentler race (generally identified with Neanderthals) by deceit and violence. The Spire (1964) follows the building (and near collapse) of a huge spire onto a medieval cathedral (generally assumed to be Salisbury Cathedral); the spire symbolizing both spiritual aspiration and worldly vanity. The Scorpion God (1971) consists of three novellas, the first set in a prehistoric African hunter-gatherer band ('Clonk, Clonk'), the second in an ancient Egyptian court ('The Scorpion God') and the third in the court of a Roman emperor ('Envoy Extraordinary'). The trilogy To the Ends of the Earth, which includes the Rites of Passage (1980), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire Down Below (1989), that involve sea voyages in the early 19th-century.
American Nobel laureate William Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom (1936) is set before, during, and after the American Civil War. The following American authors have also written historical novels in the 20th-century: Gore Vidal, John Barth, Norman Mailer, E.L. Doctorow, William Kennedy.
Connection to nationalism
Historical fiction sometimes encouraged movements of romantic nationalism. Walter Scott's Waverley novels created interest in Scottish history and still illuminate it. A series of novels by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski on the history of Poland popularized the country's history after it had lost its independence in the Partitions of Poland. Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote several immensely popular novels set in conflicts between the Poles and predatory Teutonic Knights, rebelling Cossacks and invading Swedes. He won the 1905 Nobel Prize in literature. He also wrote the popular novel, Quo Vadis, about Nero's Rome and the early Christians, which has been adapted several times for film, in 1912, 1924, 1951, 2001 to only name the most prominent. Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter fulfilled a similar function for Norwegian history; Undset later won a Nobel Prize for Literature (1928).
The influence of the historical novel on society
Many early historical novels played an important role in the rise of European popular interest in the history of the Middle Ages. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame often receives credit for fueling the movement to preserve the Gothic architecture of France, leading to the establishment of the Monuments historiques, the French governmental authority for historic preservation. Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti's historical mystery saga Imprimateur Secretum Veritas Mysterium has rose interest in European history and having famous castrato opera singer Atto Melani as a detective and spy. Although the story itself is fiction, many of the persona and events are not. The book is based on research by Monaldi and Sorti, who researched information from 17th-century manuscripts and published works concerning the siege of Vienna, the plague and papacy of Pope Innocent XI. 
The historical novel as a commentator on society
The genre of the historical novel has also permitted some authors, such as the Polish novelist Bolesław Prus in his sole historical novel, Pharaoh, to distance themselves from their own time and place to gain perspective on society and on the human condition, or to escape the depredations of the censor.
Historical events as a backdrop
In some historical novels, major historic events take place mostly off-stage, while the fictional characters inhabit the world where those events occur. Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped recounts mostly private adventures set against the backdrop of the Jacobite troubles in Scotland. Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge is set amid the Gordon Riots, and A Tale of Two Cities in the French Revolution.
In some works, the accuracy of the historical elements has been questioned, as in Alexandre Dumas' Queen Margot. Postmodern novelists such as John Barth and Thomas Pynchon operate with even more freedom, mixing historical characters and settings with invented history and fantasy, as in the novels The Sot-Weed Factor and Mason & Dixon respectively. A few writers create historical fiction without fictional characters. One example is the historical mystery series Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough.
Theory and criticism
The Marxist literary critic, essayist, and social theorist György Lukács wrote extensively on the aesthetic and political significance of the historical novel. In 1937's Der historische Roman, published originally in Russian, Lukács developed critical readings of several historical novels by various authors, including Gottfried Keller, Charles Dickens, and Gustave Flaubert. He interprets the advent of the "genuinely" historical novel at the beginning of the 19th century in terms of two developments, or processes. The first is the development of a specific genre in a specific medium—the historical novel's unique stylistic and narrative elements. The second is the development of a representative, organic artwork that can capture the fractures, contradictions, and problems of the particular productive mode of its time (i.e., developing, early, entrenched capitalism).
Subgenres of the historical novel
A 20th-century variant of the historical novel is documentary fiction, which incorporates "not only historical characters and events, but also reports of everyday events" found in contemporary newspapers. Examples of this variant form of historical novel include, USA (1938), and Ragtime (1975) by E.L. Doctorow.
Margaret George has written fictional biographies about historical persons in The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997) and Mary, called Magdalene (2002). An earlier example is Peter I (1929–34) by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, and I, Claudius (1934) and King Jesus (1946) by Robert Graves. Other recent biographical novel series, include Conqueror and Emperor by Conn Iggulden and Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris.
Historical mysteries or "historical whodunits" are set by their authors in the distant past, with a plot that which involves the solving of a mystery or crime (usually murder). Though works combining these genres have existed since at least the early 1900s, many credit Ellis Peters's Cadfael Chronicles (1977-1994) with popularizing them. These are set between 1137 and 1145 A.D.  The increasing popularity of this type of fiction in subsequent decades has created a distinct subgenre recognized by both publishers and libraries.
Historical romance and family sagas
Romantic themes have also been portrayed, such as Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. One of the first popular historical romances appeared in 1921, when Georgette Heyer published The Black Moth, which is set in 1751. It was not until 1935 that she wrote the first of her signature Regency novels, set around the English Regency period (1811–1820), when the Prince Regent ruled England in place of his ill father, George III. Heyer's Regency novels were inspired by Jane Austen's novels of the late 18th and early 19th century. Because Heyer's writing was set in the midst of events that had occurred over 100 years previously, she included authentic period detail in order for her readers to understand. Where Heyer referred to historical events, it was as background detail to set the period, and did not usually play a key role in the narrative. Heyer's characters often contained more modern-day sensibilities, and more conventional characters in the novels would point out the heroine's eccentricities, such as wanting to marry for love.
Sea stories and pirate fiction
Some historical novels explore life at sea, including C.S. Forester's Hornblower series, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, Alexander Kent's The Bolitho Novels, Dudley Pope's Lord Ramage's series, all of which all deal with the Napoleonic Wars. There are also adventure novels with pirate characters like Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) and Captain Blood (1922) by Rafael Sabatini. Recent examples of historical novels about pirates are The Adventures of Hector Lynch by Tim Severin, The White Devil (Белият Дявол) by Hristo Kalchev and The Pirate Devlin novels by Mark Keating.
Alternate history and historical fantasy
The Plot Against America is a novel by Philip Roth published in 2004. It is an alternative history in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt is defeated in the presidential election of 1940 by Charles Lindbergh and a fascist, anti-semitic government is established. There are other examples, such as Robert Silverberg's Roma Eterna, in which the Roman Empire survives to the present day and time travel to the past, such as the "Company" stories of Kage Baker. There are authors who write in both sub-genres, like Harry Turtledove in his Timeline 191 series and "The Guns of the South" novel, respectively. Isaac Asimov's short story What If-- is about a couple who can explore alternate realities by means of a television-like device. This idea can also be found in Asimov's 1955 novel The End of Eternity. In that novel, the "Eternals" can change the realities of the world, without people being aware of it.
There is also an historical fantasy subgenre. Poul Anderson has a number of historical fantasy novels set in Viking times including The Broken Sword and Hrolf Kraki's Saga. Otherwise space opera author C. J. Cherryh has a whole historical fantasy series The Russian Stories set in Medieval Kievan Rus times. Guy Gavriel Kay has number of historical fantasy novels as "The Lions of Al-Rassan" set in Renaissance Spain and "The Sarantine Mosaic" in Ancient Greece. David Gemmel has only two historical fantasy series. The first is the Greek series, which are about Parmenion, a general of Alexander the Great. The story is loosely based on historic events, but adds fantasy elements such as supernatural creatures and sorcery. His posthumous Troy Series features a fictional version of the Trojan War. The Sevenwaters Trilogy (later expanded) by Juliet Marillier is set in 9th century Ireland.
Children's historical fiction
A prominent subgenre within historical fiction is the Children's historical novel. Often following a pedagogical bent, children's historical fiction may follow the conventions of many of the other subgenres of historical fiction. A number of such works include elements of historical fantasy or time travel to facilitate the transition between the contemporary world and the past in the tradition of children's portal fiction. Sometimes publishers will commission series of historical novels that explore different periods and times. Among the most popular contemporary series include the American Girl novels and the Magic Tree House series. A prominent award within Children's historical fiction is the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
Historical fiction in performing and visual arts
Historical period drama films and television series
Historical drama film stories are based upon historical events and famous people. Some historical dramas are docudramas, which attempt an accurate portrayal of a historical event or biography, to the degree that the available historical research will allow. Other historical dramas are fictionalized tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds, such as Braveheart, which is loosely based on the 13th-century knight William Wallace's fight for Scotland's independence. For films pertaining to the history of East Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia, there are Asian historical period drama films, also known as Jidaigeki in Japan. Many wuxia and samurai films also fall under historical drama umbrella.
Many historical narratives have been expanded into television series. Notable ancient history inspired TV series include: Rome, Spartacus, Egypt and I Claudius. Tudor England is also very prominent subject in television series like The Tudors, The Virgin Queen and Elizabeth I. Programs about the Napoleonic Wars have also been produced, like Sharpe and Hornblower. Historical soap operas have also been popular, including the Turkish TV series The Magnificent Century and Once Upon A Time In The Ottoman Empire: Rebellion. Chinese studios have also produced television series like The Legend and the Hero, its sequel series, Legend of Chu and Han and The Qin Empire.
History plays and grand opera
History is one of the three main genres in Western theatre alongside tragedy and comedy, although it originated, in its modern form, thousands of years later than the other primary genres. For this reason, it is often treated as a subset of tragedy. A play in this genre is known as a history play and is based on a historical narrative, often set in the medieval or early modern past. History emerged as a distinct genre from tragedy in Renaissance England. The best known examples of the genre are the history plays written by William Shakespeare, whose plays still serve to define the genre. History plays also appear elsewhere in British and Western literature, such as Thomas Heywood's Edward IV, Schiller's Mary Stuart or the Dutch genre Gijsbrecht van Aemstel.
In the First Folio, the plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies. The histories might be more accurately called the "English history plays" and include the outliers King John and Henry VIII as well as a continuous sequence of eight plays covering the Wars of the Roses. These last are considered to have been composed in two cycles. The so-called first tetralogy, apparently written in the early 1590s, deals with the later part of the struggle and includes Henry VI, parts one, two & three and Richard III. The second tetralogy, finished in 1599 and including Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V, is frequently called the Henriad after its protagonist Prince Hal, the future Henry V.
The folio's classifications are not unproblematic. Besides proposing other categories such as romances and problem plays, many modern studies treat the histories together with those tragedies that feature historical characters. These include Macbeth, set in the mid-11th century during the reigns of Duncan I of Scotland and Edward the Confessor, and also the Roman plays Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and the legendary King Lear.
Historical grand operas are very popular. Usually with 4 or 5 acts, they are large-scale casts and orchestras, and spectacular staging, often based on historical themes. They are particularly associated with the Paris Opéra (1820s to c. 1850), but similar works were created in other countries. Several operas by Gaspare Spontini, Luigi Cherubini, and Gioachino Rossini can be regarded as precursors to French grand opera. These include Spontini's La vestale (1807) and Fernand Cortez (1809, revised 1817), Cherubini's Les Abencérages (1813), and Rossini's Le siège de Corinthe (1827) and Moïse et Pharaon (1828). All of these have some of the characteristics of size and spectacle that are normally associated with French grand opera. Another important forerunner was Il crociato in Egitto by Meyerbeer, who eventually became the acknowledged king of the grand opera genre. Amongst the most important composers of grand opera are Giuseppe Verdi, Gioachino Rossini and Richard Wagner.
Historical reenactment is an educational or entertainment activity in which people follow a plan to recreate aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge presented during the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire period, such as Regency reenactment or The 1920s Berlin Project.
Historically-based comics and graphic novels
Historical narratives have find their way also in comics and graphic novels. There are Prehistorical elements in jungle comics like Akim and Rahan. Ancient Greece inspired graphic novels are 300 created by Frank Miller, centered around Battle of Thermopylae, and Age of Bronze series by Eric Shanower, that retells Trojan War. Historical subjects can also be found in manhua comics like Three Kingdoms and Sun Zi's Tactics by Lee Chi Ching, Weapons of the Gods by Wong Yuk Long as well as The Ravages of Time by Chan Mou. There are also straight Samurai manga series like Path of the Assassin, Vagabond, Rurouni Kenshin and Azumi. Several comics and graphic novels have been produced into anime series or a movie adaptations like Azumi and 300.
List of historical fiction by time period
This list is designed to provide examples of notable historical novels. For a more exhaustive list, see the larger List of historical novels or the Wikipedia category containing Wikipedia articles about historical novels Category:Historical novels.
Set in Prehistory (c.30,000 B.C.-3000 B.C.)
- Earth's Children by Jean Auel
- Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell
- Pillar of the Sky by Cecelia Holland
- Mammoth Trilogy by Stephen Baxter
- The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone
- Song of the Axe and Song of the Earth by John R. Dann
- Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
- First North Americans by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear
- The temporary Zare (На заре времен) series by Semyon Karatov et al.
- The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault
Set in Classical Greece, Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, etc. (c.2000 B.C. - 500 A.D.)
- I, Claudius, King Jesus, Homer's Daughter and Count Belisarius by Robert Graves
- Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games by Mary Renault
- Emperor series by Conn Iggulden
- A Struggle for Rome by Felix Dahn
- Men of Bronze and Memnon by Scott Oden
- The Scourge of God by William Dietrich
- Pharaoh by Bolesław Prus
- Julian and Creation by Gore Vidal
- The Sword of Atilla by Petar Bobev
- The Death of Atilla by Cecelia Holland
- Uard, Homo sum, Die Schwester, Der Kaiser by Georg Ebers
- Carthage Trilogy by Ross Leckie
- Gaius Valerius Verrens series by Douglas Jackson
- The Ramses Series and The Queen of Freedom Trilogy by Christian Jacq
- The Empress of Silk (L'impératrice de la soie) and The Jade Disc (Le disque de jade) by José Frèches
- The War at Troy and The Return from Troy by Lindsay Clarke
- Marcus Corvinus series by David Wishart
- Roma Sub Rosa by Steven Saylor
- The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
- Hannibal Chronicles, 'Spartacus Chronicles and Forgotten Legion Chronicles by Ben Kane
- Vespassian by Robert Fabbri
- Cicero Trilogy (Imperium/Lustrum/Dictator) and "Pompeii" by Robert Harris
- The Egyptian and The Secret of the Kingdom by Mika Waltari
- The Alexander Trilogy (Trilogia di Aléxandros) by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
- Eagle Series and Gladiator Series by Simon Scarrow
- Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz
- Lion of Sparta (Леонид. Спартанский лев) and Darius (Дарий) by Viktor Porotnikov
- Troy Series by David Gemmel
- The Walled Orchard and Alexander: At World's End by Tom Holt
- Judge Dee by Robert Van Gulik
- "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" by Luo Guanzhong and retold by Eiji Yoshikawa
- "Gates of Fire" and "Tides of War" by Stephen Pressfield
Set in the Middle Ages (c.500 A.D.-1500 A.D.)
- Les Rois Maudits by Maurice Druon
- The Saxon Stories and The Grail Quest by Bernard Cornwell
- Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden
- Oathsworn Series by Robert Low
- Matthew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory
- Brethren Trilogy and The Insurrection Trilogy by Robyn Young
- Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte
- Kings of Albion and The Last English King by Julian Rathbone
- King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead
- "The Knights of the Cross" by Henryk Sienkiewicz
- "New Tale of the Heike" by Eiji Yoshikawa
- The Viking Series and Saxon by Tim Severin
- "Nama miko monogatari (A Tale of False Fortunes)" by Fumiko Enchi
- The Plantagenet Series, The Welsh Princes Series, "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman
- The Cadfael Chronicles and A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury by Edith Pargeter
- The Corban Loosestrife series and Great Maria by Cecelia Holland
Set in the Early Modern Period (c.1500 A.D.-1760 A.D.)
- Sano Ichiro by Laura Joh Rowland
- Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolò by Dorothy Dunnett
- The Secrets of the Tudor Court and Face Down Mysteries by Kate Emerson
- Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
- Peter I by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
- The White Devil (Белият Дявол) by Hristo Kalchev
- The Waverley Novels by Walter Scott
- The Cem Case by Vera Mutafchieva
- My Name is Red and The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk
- Mathias Tannhauser trilogy by Tim Willocks
- d'Artagnan Romances and Valois Romances by Alexandre Dumas
- Miyamoto Musashi and "Taiko ki" by Eiji Yoshikawa
- Imprimatur Secretum Veritas Mysterium… by Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti
- Leo Africanus, Samarkand, Balthasar's Odyssey by Amin Maalouf
- "Shōgun" by James Clavell
Set during the Industrial Revolution and Napoleonic Era (c.1760 A.D.-1840 A.D.)
- Sharpe by Bernard Cornwell
- Aubrey-Maturin by Patrick O'Brian
- Hornblower by C.S. Forester
- Lord Ramage by Dudley Pope
- Saint Hermine Series by Alexandre Dumas
- The Trilogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz
- "The Mutiny" by Julian Rathbone
- The Revolution Quartet by Simon Scarrow
Set 2000 B.C.-600 A.D.
- Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Timon of Athens, Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
- Britannicus by Jean Racine
- Caligula by Albert Camus
- The Death of Pompey by Pierre Corneille
- Socrates on Trial by Andrew David Irvine
- Caesar and Cleopatra by George Bernard Shaw
Set 600 A.D.-1550 A.D.
- St Joan by George Bernard Shaw
- William Shakespeare's English history plays
- Edward II, Tamburlaine, and The Massacre at Paris by Christopher Marlow
- Henry IV by Luigi Pirandello
- In Extremis: The Story of Abelard & Heloise and Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton
- The Jester's Supper by Sem Benelli
- Marie Tudor by Victor Hugo
- Götz von Berlichingen by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Set after 1550 A.D.
- Egmont and Torquato Tasso by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Mary Stuart and Demetrius by Friedrich Schiller
- Cross and Sword by Paul Green
Set 3000 B.C.-600 A.D.
- Aida and Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi
- Akhnaten by Philip Glass
- Cléopâtre and Hérodiade by Jules Massenet
- Mosè in Egitto by Gioachino Rossini
- Giulio Cesare by George Frideric Handel
- Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz
- Sapho by Charles Gounod
- L'Olimpiade by Metastasio
- Germanicus by Georg Philipp Telemann
Set 600 A.D.-1800 A.D.
- Gustave III by Daniel Auber
- Henry VIII by Camille Saint-Saëns
- William Tell by Gioachino Rossini
- Les Huguenots and Le prophète by Giacomo Meyerbeer
- Fosca and Salvator Rosa by Antônio Carlos Gomes
- Fernand Cortez by Gaspare Spontini
- Thérèse by Jules Massenet
- Le roi l'a dit by Léo Delibes
- Les Abencérages by Luigi Cherubini
- Montezuma by Roger Sessions
- Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi
- Three Kingdoms by Yū Terashima
- Fung Wan by Ma Wing-shing
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Andy Seto
- The Ravages of Time by Chan Mou
- "Search - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- Richard Lee. "Defining the Genre".
- Sarah L. Johnson. Historical Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2005, p. 1.
- Adamson, Lynda G. (1999). World Historical Fiction. Phoenix, AZ: Orxy Press. p. xi. ISBN 9781573560665.
- Margaret Anne Doody, The True Story of the Novel. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996, p. 27.
- Celia Brayfield; Duncan Sprott (5 December 2013). Writing Historical Fiction: A Writers' and Artists' Companion. A&C Black. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-78093-838-7.
- Roy Starrs (23 October 2013). Asian Nationalism in an Age of Globalization. Taylor & Francis. p. 646. ISBN 978-1-134-27869-5.
- J. A. Cuddon The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Penguin Books: London, 1999, p.383.
- Looser, Devoney. Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750–1850, pp. 157 ff. JHU Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4214-0022-8. Accessed 30 September 2013.
- Laskowski, Maciej. "Jane Porter's Thaddeus of Warsaw as evidence of Polish–British relationships". Instytucie Filologii Angielskiej (Poznan), 2012. Accessed 26 September 2013.
- McLean, Thomas. "Nobody's Argument: Jane Porter and the Historical Novel". Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Fall–Winter, 2007), pp. 88–103. University of Pennsylvania Press. Accessed 26 September 2013.
- Anessi, Thomas. "England's Future/Poland's Past: History and National Identity In Thaddeus of Warsaw". Accessed 26 September 2013.
- The Oxford Companion to English Literature (1985), ed. Margaret Drabble, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, p.310.
- Lukacs 15-29
- Lukacs 31-38
- Lukacs 69-72
- Last of the Mohicans, The. In: Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam-Webster, 1995, ISBN 0877790426, p.661
- "Sinner, Victim, Object, Winner | ANCHORS: JACKI LYDEN". National Public Radio (NPR). March 2, 2008, Sunday. SHOW: Weekend All Things Considered. Check date values in:
|date=(help) (quote in article refers to it as his "masterwork", listen to the audio to hear it the original reference to it being his "magnum opus")
- Archibald Colquhoun. Manzoni and his Times. J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1954.
- From Georg Lukàcs, "The Historical Novel" (1969).
- Taylor xx
- "Hardy and the Trumpet Major". Dorset Life. 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Lukacs 92-96
- Pevear, Richard. "Introduction". War and Peace. Trans. Pevear; Volokhonsky, Larissa. New York City, New York: Vintage Books, 2008.
- Pevear, Richard. "Introduction". War and Peace.
- "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1929". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
- Longford, Elizabeth (13 January 1999). "Obituary: Naomi Mitchison". The Independent. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms, p.384.
- William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996, p.251.
- Mapping Gothic France: Victor Hugo
- ’’Imprimatur’’, p.532
- Czesław Miłosz, The History of Polish Literature, pp. 299–302.
- M. H. Abrams A Glossary of Literary Terms. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1999, p.194.
- M. H. Abrams, p.194.
- Picker, Lenny (3 March 2010). "Mysteries of History". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Rivkin Jr., David B. (27 February 2010). "Five Best Historical Mystery Novels". WSJ.com. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Magar, Guy. "The Mystery Defined". WritersStore.com. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "A Guide for Historical Fiction Lovers". ProvLib.org. Providence Public Library. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- "Popular Culture: Mysteries". ASCPLpop.AkronLibrary.org. Akron-Summit County Public Library. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Regis (2003), pp. 125-126.
- Regis (2003), p. 127.
- Ostovich, Helen; Silcox, Mary V; Roebuck, Graham (1999). Other Voices, Other Views: Expanding the Canon in English Renaissance Studies. ISBN 9780874136807. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- Ribner, Irving (Dec 1955). "Marlowe's Edward II and the Tudor History Play". ELH (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 22 (4): 243–253. JSTOR 2871887.
- Irving Ribner (1965). The English History Play in the Age of Shakespeare. ISBN 9780415353144. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- Lukacs, Georg (1969). The Historical Novel. Penguin Books.
- Shaw, Harry E. The Forms of Historical Fiction: Sir Walter Scott and His Successors. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983.
|Look up historical fiction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Historical Fiction recommended reading
- Historical Fiction database, divided by time period.
- Audio Archives from "Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth"- 2009 Key West Literary Seminar
- Historical Fiction Festival Annual event in Summerhall, Edinburgh, for writers and audiences to discuss historical fiction.
- Audio Archives from Historical Fiction and the Search for Truth: 2009 Key West Literary Seminar (accessed 08-2010)
- A Guide to the Best Historical Novels and Tales by Jonathan Nield (1902). Project Gutenberg etext (accessed 05-2014)
- A selection of historical novels set by epoch and author. (accessed 08-2010)
- Annotated list of historical novels for children and teens Anchorage Public Library
- Defining the Genre: What are the rules for historical fiction? from the Historical Novel Society
- When Fictionalized Facts Matter - Chronicle of Higher Education article on the fictionalization of history