Participants in the 2015 reader survey nominated their favourite historical fiction (a second post added those mentioned by 5 to 9 participants). What can we glean from the more than 1700 nominated titles?
- Many mentions of titles by authors such as Dorothy Dunnett, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sharon Kay Penman, Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O’Brian, Ken Follett and Diana Gabaldon which is not surprising given the status of these writers as favourite authors. (You can find the post on favourite authors here.)
- Many mentions of Outlander and Wolf Hall and I wonder if this reflects their recent TV adaptations.
- Despite the request for single titles only, series were frequently nominated which makes me think that participants really enjoy series and additionally did not want to be restricted to three titles.
- A significant number of favourites are stories set in ancient Rome.
- Many favourite stories were written long ago by authors such as Sir Walter Scott, Daniel Defoe, Mary Stewart, Alexandre Dumas, Irving Stone, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jean Plaidy, Leo Tolstoy.
- Readers enjoy myths, particularly those told of King Arthur and Merlin.
- Both major and minor historical fiction figures feature in the stories.
- There are many, many authors I have never heard of.
- The inclusion of a few relatively recent 2015 novels – All the Light We Cannot See for example – might suggest that it’s easier to recall a title recently read than one from long ago.
- Not surprisingly, favourites vary with gender, nationality and age.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET will be published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.