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.

Reading up a storm … historical fiction, of course

During the last two months amidst the hectic activity of promoting Unravelled and running the 2013 historical fiction survey, I’ve done a lot of reading. Almost all of it historical fiction.

Although some appealed to me more than others, all are enjoyable reads and will have their fans in the different sub-genres that constitute historical fiction. (For an interesting look at these sub-genres, check out Reading the Past for Sarah Johnson’s blog post and presentation.)

My personal favourites were: A Spear of Summer Grass (intriguing characters, taught romance and beautiful Africa), Life After Life (novel ‘what if’ concept and great writing), Blood & Beauty (Borgia Italy with all its passions, deceits and displays of power), The Painted Girls (Paris in the late 1800s, gritty and compelling), Rules of Civility (exposes the realities of making it in pre-WWII New York), and Letters from Skye (connecting both world wars, an epistolary novel done extremely well).

Reading historical fiction is a passion for me. I’m drawn to superb writing, strong, rule-breaking characters, stories with energy and events that unfold with intensity, believable romantic plot lines that aren’t formulaic or predictable, WWI and WWII timeframes and historical details that transport me to the time and place without being overdone.

Books, books, books

After conducting the historical fiction survey and discovering a bunch of favourite authors, I decided that I should read as many of them as possible – not all their work but at least one book each. In some cases – Philippa Gregory is an example – I had already experienced the author but others, like CW Gortner or Deanna Raybourn, were unknown to me. So here’s my progress on the top 40, by the way, I’m concentrating on living authors.

READ OR READING

  • Sharon Kay Penman – Time and Chance
  • Philippa Gregory – the latest was Fallen Skies (an early work set in post-WWI times)
  • Elizabeth Chadwick – The Running Vixen
  • Bernard Cornwell – Sword Song
  • Ken Follett – Fall of Giants
  • CW Gortner – The Last Queen and The Queen’s Vow
  • Michelle Moran – Cleopatra’s Daughter
  • Susan Higginbotham – Traitor’s Wife
  • Helen Hollick – Forever Queen
  • Anne Perry – The Sheen on the Silk
  • Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book
  • Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs
  • Deanna Raybourn – Silent in the Sanctuary and Silent in the Grave

TO BE READ

  • Diana Gabaldon – one of her Lord John Grey series (since I’ve read almost all of Outlander)
  • Alison Weir – Mistress of the Monarchy (a new author for me)
  • Margaret George – Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (such a tragic figure)
  • CJ Sansom – Heartstone (one of his Matthew Shardlake series)
  • Tracy Chevalier – The Virgin Blue (interweaving present and past)
  • Hilary Mantel – Bring up the Bodies (completing the Wolf Hall story)
  • Sarah Dunant – Sacred Hearts (set in a 16th Italian convent)
  • Colleen McCullough – The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (haven’t read this Australian author since The Thorn Birds)
  • Lindsey Davis – The Course of Honour (another new author)
  • Edward Rutherfurd – Dublin (who can resist Dublin?)
  • Sarah Waters – The Night Watch (WWII is up my alley)
  • Jean Auel – I’ve read them all (no pun intended)
  • John Jakes – On Secret Service (because I enjoy spies)

I have my work cut out for me. I’ll be trying to figure out what makes them such favourites.

PS – I’ve also read The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin, Fire in the East by Harry Sidebottom and The King’s Daughter by Barbara Kyle.