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10 Best “CLASSIC” Historical Fiction Books (of all time!)

By the best classic historical fiction books I mean all those juicy 19th- and 20th-century must-read literary novels that you’d find in almost any bibliophile’s library predating 1960. Many of these historical fiction classics were written over a hundred years ago, world best sellers that will most likely continue to be read by history novel lovers a hundred years from now! Now, without further delay–

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The 10 Best Historical Fiction Classics – The Most “Classic” History Books of All Time That Everyone Should Read

#10:

The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne

top classic fiction books everyone should read

First published in 1857, but in 2023 The Coral Island still scores 3.7/5 on Goodreads!

Set in 1840, The Coral Island explores the historical reality of the Pacific coral islands through the perspective of 3 British boys after a shipwreck. From sailing the high seas to fighting deadly cannibals, Ralph Rover and his friends must overcome challenges that landlubbers in the 21st century might find impossible to survive.


#9:

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper

must read best seller historical fiction books of all time

First published in 1841, but in 2023 The Deerslayer still scores 3.7/5 on Goodreads!

Set in the early 1740s, The Deerslayer explores the brutal life of living in the wilderness of North America as isolated pioneers. More dangerous than the threat of cold and hunger is the native population who seek the scalps of European interlopers.


#8:

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

list of the best classic historical fiction books

First published in 1826, but in 2023 The Last of the Mohicans still scores 3.7/5 on Goodreads!

Set in 1757, The Last of the Mohicans places the reader in Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War, where the last survivors of the Mohican tribe seek revenge against the French and their Iroquois allies.


#7:

Ivanhoe by Walter Scott

classic history novels list

First published in 1819, but in 2023 Ivanhoe still scores 3.76/5 on Goodreads!

Set in 1194, Ivanhoe follows the story of a noble Anglo-Saxon family in an England ruled by Norman conquerors. In this romantic tale of medieval chivalry and revenge, Ivanhoe must find his new place in life after returning from the Crusades.


#6:

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard

classic fiction books

First published in 1885, but in 2023 King Solomon’s Mines still scores 3.8/5 on Goodreads!

Set in Africa during the late Victorian era, King Solomon’s Mines showcases Europe’s 19th-century fascination with exploring the untamed wildernesses of Africa by following English adventurers in their search for legendary treasure.


#5:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

best classic historical fiction novels of all time

First published in 1882, but in 2023 Treasure Island still scores 3.84/5 on Goodreads!

Set in the mid 1700s, Treasure Island explores the brutal life of English sailors on the high seas. A search for pirate treasure quickly leads them toward unspeakable dangers on a secret tropical island.


#4:

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

classic literary fiction authors

First published in 1850, but in 2023 The Man in the Iron Mask still scores 3.99/5 on Goodreads!

Set in 1662, The Man in the Iron Mask explores the drama of King Louis XIV’s court. Although it is often enjoyed as a standalone in the 21st century, The Man in the Iron Mask was actually the final section of a much larger trilogy known as The d’Artagnan Romances, which includes the swashbuckler The Three Musketeers.


#3:

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

best classic fiction books list

First published in 1831, but in 2023 The Hunchback of Notre-Dame still scores 4.01 on Goodreads!

Set in the year 1482, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame explores late medieval Paris. A crookback bell ringer falls madly in love with a dancer who is out of his league, resulting in tale of jealousy, kidnapping and star-crossed romance.


#2:

The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart

list of the best historical fiction classics

First published in 1959, but in 2023 The Last of the Just still scores 4.25 on Goodreads!

A time-twister that takes the reader from the 12th century to World War 2, The Last of the Just follows a Jewish bloodline through 8 centuries of history. This heart-wrenching story reveals the legacy of a Jewish family’s cruel persecution, from the Crusades to Hitler’s gas chambers.


#1:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

best classic historical fiction novels of all time

First published in 1813, but in 2023 Pride and Prejudice still scores 4.28 on Goodreads!

Set in Georgian-era England, Pride and Prejudice explores the historical reality of deportment and etiquette among aristocracy by following the romance between a country gentleman’s daughter and a wealthy landowner.


List of the Best Classic Historical Fictions Books in Proper Order:

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. The Last of the Just
  3. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
  4. The Man in the Iron Mask
  5. Treasure Island
  6. King Solomon’s Mines
  7. Ivanhoe
  8. The Last of the Mohicans
  9. The Deerslayer
  10. The Coral Island

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