Oh, the Memories!
In going through my library today I came across a number of books that I hadn’t picked up in a long while. It brought back many pleasant memories of late nights and early mornings—trying to get in a few hours of reading before or after work. I remembered how much I enjoyed those hours—rushing to get through the end of a chapter before I had to leave. As most of those books were works of historical fiction, I decided to compile a list of my Top Ten Historical Fiction Writers of All-Time. I will start with my honorable mentions and then proceed from 10 to 1. Here goes:
Honorable Mention: Julian Stockwin, Dewey Lamden, Phillipa Gregory, Alexander Kent, Sharon K. Penman, Manda Scott, Michael Shaara, Steven Pressfield, Arthur Conan Doyle (for his HF novel The White Company)
10. G.A. Henty – (1832 – 1902) Prolific English writer who tackled an enormous range of subjects. He is credited with writing over 100 books of historical fiction.
9. Allan Mallinson – (Living) English writer best known for his Matthew Hervey series set during the Napoleonic Wars
8. Ken Follett – (Living) Welsh writer best known for his novel Pillars of the Earth which was made into a successful mini-series
7. Edward Rutherford – (Living) English writer known for his epic novels spanning generations. Reading him is a commitment, as his books usually run to more than 1,000 pages. His debut novel, Sarum, is my favorite.
6. Rosemary Sutcliff – (1920 – 1992) English writer known for her works on Roman Britain. Her novel Eagle of the Ninth was adapted for the screen in the 2011 movie The Eagle.
5. C.S. Forster – (1899 – 1966) English writer best known for his Horatio Hornblower series about a British naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars
4. Howard Bahr – (Living) This one may surprise you. HB is an American writer who is also a professor of creative writing in Mississippi. He has written three books set during the American Civil War, my favorite being The Year of Jubilo. Pick it up. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Charles Frazier – (Living) American writer whose work is generally classified as Literary Fiction. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt for his Civil War novel Cold Mountain. I read it long before it became a movie and was utterly captivated. Forget the movie but you must read the book.
2. Bernard Cornwell – (Living) English writer (living in America) best known for his Sharpe series following the adventures of a rugged British infantry officer during the Napoleonic Wars.
1. Patrick O’Brian – (1914 – 2000) English writer best known for his 20-volume Aubrey / Maturin series set among the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The film Master and Commander with Russell Crowe was based loosely on an amalgamation of two of these novels.
So there you have it. My top ten historical fiction writers of all-time. Controversial perhaps – but writing, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What are your top ten? Drop me a note in the comments.