Reading historical fiction varies by country – part 2

A few days ago, I posted part 1 of reading varies by country. Now that I’ve crunched the numbers using handy dandy Excel, I have the top 20 favourite authors by country for you.

Who are your favourite authors?

As predicted, the top 20 authors vary by country. At times an author garners many votes in one country and almost none in the other often reflecting an author’s country of origin. Diana Gabaldon is one example with 460 US mentions and only 30 UK mentions. On the flip side, Manda Scott earned 36 UK mentions and only 7 US mentions. Bear in mind that 1381 US participants answered this question in comparison with 505 UK participants.

First a look at US favourite authors:

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And now, compare to UK favourite authors:Favourite UK Authors

Quite the variation, don’t you think? Any theories? Love to hear them!

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18 Responses

  1. Fascinating. It answer your question we’d have to do a systematic analysis of each one and overlay it on the data in your previous two posts. (Get on that, won’t you, MK?) Seriously I confess there were names on the UK list that were unfamiliar to me and I see no Elizabeth Peters, for example, on the UK List. I wonder if there is a difference in publication patterns–which are more distributed in which country. On the other hand I couldn’t find Edward Rutherfurd on the UK list at all and he’s British.

    1. Thanks, Caroline! I had to do a lot of Excel manipulations to get the US/UK breakdown – and I’m not an Excel Whiz! You are probably correct about publication patterns affecting results. It seems to me that an author is ‘top of mind’ if they have a recent release – could definitely affect results. Similarly, the proportion of male/female will alter results. And then there’s the Diana Gabaldon factor – her fan base got into the survey big time which leads to the question of what those fans typically read 🙂

  2. It is interesting, isn’t it? I was wondering what factor counted most – nationality of the author or country/era of the novels. I suppose I could work it out – but it is late here and even the idea of thinking is exhausting.
    Glad Dorothy Dunnett is on both lists. I would have lost faith in humankind – at least the part that did the survey – if she had not been in the top ten.
    On a bright note, I saw quite a few names I am not familiar with. New authors to try – yaaay!

  3. I do believe readers in the UK are more apt to revisit the greats of the past while Americans seem drawn to the current best sellers. I see a higher degree of historical integrity and a tad less drama on the UK list.

  4. Hi Mary. Interesting information and good to see my friend Simon Turney “in the charts” – deservedly so. I think the timing of the gathering of information must make some difference in the ranking though perhaps it would not have so much effect on the range of authors mentioned.

  5. I think it would be interesting to break down the time periods about which these authors write. The UK list seems to have more people who write about ancient times.

    1. Sara Donati has an impressive following. I read her first book Into the Wilderness and loved it, but I’m not a very good serial reader, so never read the next in her wilderness series. I’ll have to pick up the next. I checked her out on Goodreads and she appears to have a loyal following of readers and very good ratings. Thanks as always for putting out this data 🙂

      P.S. / FYI Mary, I’m unable to log in with either my Twitter or Facebook account because something is coming back invalid and my browser thinks your site is unsafe. Here is the error message I got:



  6. Wow. No theories, but where the heck is Margaret George on the UK list? And only #11 on the US chart?! And no Diana Galbaldon on the UK chart. Amazing. I see a few unfamiliar names on the UK list, which I want to check out. Quite interesting to see the disparate numbers on the US chart for the top three vs the UK chart. Happy to see our Helen Hollick on both lists. Perhaps marketing strategies is an element?

    1. Hi Darlene – Diana Gabaldon is on the UK chart … ranked #8 right after C.J. Sansom. Margaret George had 6 mentions on the UK list, she had a survey total of 46 mentions which means she’s popular in countries beyond US and UK. I’m sure marketing plays a role in all this – not surprising and, of course, a totally reasonable approach!

  7. I’ve not studied the list in detail but a quick glance suggests UK stick to writers when they are no longer writing. If so, that would be worth a PhD
    for someone, surely?

  8. It seems there are more UK authors, who write about Roman times and sea stories, than authors of those periods in the US.

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