2013 Favourite Historical Fiction Authors

Drum roll … here’s the 2013 list of favourite historical fiction authors.

Favourite HF Authors 1Of 2440 survey participants, 2075 people responded with one, two or three favourite authors. And a total of 1017 different authors were mentioned as favourites.

Trust me, that’s a lot of data to sort through particularly when you think of misspellings, use of initials or not, given name or surname written first! Names like Philippa, Iggulden and McCullough have many spellings – just to mention a few! And then I had to count them – well, actually, Excel counted them for me after my son-in-law showed me how to use the ‘countifs’ feature. Grateful thanks go out to him.

Favourite HF authors 2You will notice that we have 43 authors since five authors all had 21 mentions. A HUGE round of applause for these favourite authors.

Caveats: as I pointed out in the main report, the survey was initially publicized through the Historical Novel Society, a number of book review bloggers and my own efforts on Facebook and Twitter. From those original sources people then passed the survey link along all around the world. After about a week, in an effort to continue spreading the word, I posted on the Facebook pages of the 2012 top ten authors. As you can see from the results, Diana Gabaldon’s fans are incredibly enthusiastic about her writing and they came out in droves to vote!

Comparing to last year: (click here for the 2012 list)

  • The top 6 remain the top 6!
  • 31 authors are on both 2013 and 2012 lists
  • 12 authors are new to the top 40 list
  • 9 authors slipped off the list

Is the methodology statistically accurate?

As I mentioned in the main survey report, I am not a statistician and I’m sure some will argue that the results are skewed based on how those responding heard about it. But don’t forget, 2075 took the time to offer the names of their favourite authors.

In addition, many authors are on both lists (2012 and 2013) and of those authors who slipped off the list, most are not far behind the cutoff point. In addition, some who are new to the 2013 list were not far behind the cutoff for last year’s list.

Let me repeat what I said earlier in this post, a huge round of applause for these terrific authors.

Do men and women have different favourites? Is geography or age a factor in choosing favourite authors? Does it make a difference if you’ve recently released a new novel? I’ll return with some thoughts on these and other aspects when time permits.

Comments welcome as well as any thoughts on further analysis and the popularity of these authors.

P.S. For a look at gender differences in favourite authors, check here.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is available in paperback from Amazon (USCanada and elsewhere), and in e-book formats from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and on iTunes.

38 thoughts on “2013 Favourite Historical Fiction Authors”

      1. Diana lost me when I detected she was into bodice ripping. Besides, time traveling is not my thing. I like more historical and less fiction.

  1. I found this list utterly fascinating – that Hilary Mantel who won the Booker prize twice -an incredible feat for any writer: even more so for one who writes historical fiction – is outshone by Gabaldon according to her fans. Says a lot about popular historical fiction.
    sistersofthebruce.wordpress.com

    1. I don’t care for either one. Diana is into fairy tales and Hillary can be confusing and dull.

  2. A very interesting post giving me some spurious and random thoughts at dawn this morning. Given Diana Gabalden has mentions from over 25% of respondents and such a clear lead over others I must read a book by her to see how enjoyable I find it compared to the few books I have read or part read by Philippa Gregory, Ken Follett and Hilary Mantel. Please can someone suggest a suitable first read title by Diana for me to read.

    Although my brother is a figures mechanic by training we both share a simple view of probability as an event, such as finding these authors to read or not, either happening or not happening, i.e. 50/50.

    Neither of us are statisticians but turning your survey on its head if 600 or so of the 2,400 or so respondents like reading Diana Gabalden I wonder what Mr Worcester of Mori would say about the self selected or at least random respondents being representative of history readers.

    I also wonder how many people will reinforce national readership rankings, as I am about to do, by seeking out well known authors books to read as featured in the top part of the list at the expense of new writers.

    I will need to think about this some more and no doubt other readers will as well!

    Thanks Mary for all your number crunching in producing this interesting list, especially the consistent and solid top and other movements up and down.

    1. Hi Alexander … if you plan to read Diana Gabaldon, I suggest you read the first of her series which is called Outlander. Regarding accuracy of the favourite authors list, if Diana’s fans had not come out in droves I believe she still would have been in the top 10 just like she was in 2012. The survey tool time stamps responses and I was able to see the spike in her numbers occurring after I posted on each of the 2012 top 10 authors Facebook pages. But beyond that spike Gabaldon is still very popular 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for doing all this work – it is very much appreciated. I’m thrilled that I’ve moved up a bit from last year 🙂
    One thing I would like to know – I wonder how many of Diana Gabaldon’s fans would also like my Sea Witch Voyages? The few people I know who have read both enjoy both. Maybe I’ll work on some way of finding out one day!

  4. Wonderful piece of research, Mary, and fascinating survey results!! Well-deserved #1 spot for Diana and congratulations to fellow SilverWood author Helen Hollick for her #21 position. Personally wonderful to see Patrick O’Brian up from #22 to #9 as well.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Dave. I wonder if having a higher proportion of men had something to do with Patrick O’Brian’s position? I’m planning to explore these results further when I have more time.

  5. Love Diana’s work, but there are some really wonderful authors on this list. Phlippa Gregory, Sharon Kay Penman, Dorothy Dunnett ( loved the House of Nicolo series) Hollick and Chadwick also. Great list, great writers!

  6. […] 2013 Favourite Historical Fiction Authors. This list by blogger M.K. Todd, who I just discovered on the Historical Fictionistas discussion on Goodreads, has put together a great list of the most popular historical novelists. Topping the list is Diana Gabaldon. I’ve seen Diana speak a few times at the Surrey Writers’ Conference and even met her once (she read and said she liked the first chapter of “The Towers of Tuscany”). She is a major force in the historical fiction world, that’s for sure. I also learned a lot from hearing her speak about scene structuring, pacing, and how to incorporate historical details into the action while avoiding the dreaded info dump! Other authors on the list include many, many of my favorites: Ken Follett, Alison Weir, Mary Renault (oldie but goodie), James Michener (of course!), Tracy Chevalier (love her), Sarah Dunant, Elizabeth Peters (makes me laugh), and wonderful Hillary  Mantel. Several of these, particularly Chevalier, Dunant, and Mantel, are my particular inspirations. […]

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