9 Works of Historical Fiction Featuring Real People
Novels that use real historical figures as characters have all the best qualities of historical fiction and biographies. You can learn some actual facts about the lives of fascinating people, while also getting caught up in an imaginative story written in an entertaining way. If that sounds like your kind of book, check out the nine wonderful novels listed here. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
9 Works of Historical Fiction Featuring Real People
8 Great Historical Films About Real People
- Becoming Jane (2007)
- Vita & Virginia (2018)
- Amadeus (1984)
- Lincoln (2012)
- The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
- Catch Me If You Can (2002)
- A Quiet Passion (2016)
- Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)
Is There A Difference Between History and The Past?
Historical fiction not only gives us a glimpse of what life was like in the past, but it also helps us learn more about all sorts of interesting people from various time periods. In order to spice things up and make their stories unique, authors will often add their own interpretation of how some notable events unfolded or how certain iconic figures gained their fame or notoriety. With that in mind, we've gathered nine works of historical fiction featuring real people, listed in no particular order.
First up, at #1, we have "The Jane Austen Project" by Kathleen A. Flynn. Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane are time travelers from a distant future. They're sent back to the year 1815, where they have to befriend Jane Austen and steal the manuscript of her novel "The Watsons," which they only recently found out was actually completed prior to her death. Conflict arises when the two of them grow closer with the Austens, forcing them to choose between fulfilling their mission or altering the future by saving the people they meet along the way.
Next, at #2, is "Trinity" by Louisa Hall. It's a fictionalized take on physicist Robert Oppenheimer's journey towards becoming the "father of the atomic bomb," a title he earned due to his prominent role in the Manhattan Project. Told through the perspective of several different characters, the story covers Oppenheimer's life before and after the creation and use of the weapons he helped create. It's an insightful tale about the rise and fall of a very complex individual whose life's work caused immense tragedy.
It's an insightful tale about the rise and fall of a very complex individual whose life's work caused immense tragedy.
At #3 is "The Poison Bed" by Elizabeth Fremantle. Set during the Jacobean Era, it revolves around the death of poet Thomas Overbury and the ensuing scandal over who did it. In 1615, the Earl of Somerset, Robert Carr, and his wife, Frances, were arrested under suspicion of poisoning Overbury, who tried to prevent the couple from getting married prior to his imprisonment and death. The story attempts to provide some insight on the couple's true motives, and it shows just how cutthroat Jacobean politics were.
Next up, at #4, we have "The Only Woman in the Room" by Marie Benedict. Hedwig Kiesler is an Austrian-born Jewish actress living in Vienna. Married to an abusive and notorious arms dealer, she escapes the country in order to continue pursuing a career in acting. After changing her name to Hedy Lamarr, she eventually ends up in America, where she becomes a prominent Hollywood star. It's an inspiring tale about a very talented woman who was not only a famous actress, but also a proficient inventor whose work helped revolutionize modern communication technology.
At #5 is "Jack the Ripper" by Gyles Brandreth. Aside from the fact that he brutally murdered at least five women, not much is really known about Jack the Ripper, and when he suddenly stopped killing in 1888, his identity remained a mystery. Several years later, in 1894, Police Chief Macnaghten enlists the help of writers Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate a recent murder case and hopefully figure out who the eponymous serial killer, who people believe has resurfaced, really is.
Aside from the fact that he brutally murdered at least five women, not much is really known about Jack the Ripper, and when he suddenly stopped killing in 1888, his identity remained a mystery.
Next, at #6, is "Vanessa and Her Sister" by Priya Parmar. Through the journal entries and letters written by painter Vanessa Bell, readers get to know more about the Bloomsbury Set, a group of English intellectuals and artists who frequently met during the early 20th century. The story is mainly focused on Vanessa's relationship with her sister, a writer named Virginia Woolf, and the factors that led to them drifting apart from each other.
At #7 is "Miss Emily" by Nuala O'Connor. Ada Concannon is an Irish maid who moved to America to work for the well-respected Dickinson family. Over time, she develops a close friendship with the eponymous spinster, despite their class differences. They support each other as they both struggle with their personal problems, but when Ada's safety is threatened, Emily has to decide whether helping her friend is worth potentially tarnishing her own reputation. It's an interesting take on the life of the renowned titular poet, who famously lived in seclusion.
Next up, at #8, we have "The Chosen Maiden" by Eva Stachniak. Bronia is the younger sister of one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century, Vaslav Nijinsky. As a talented dancer and choreographer in her own right, she works hard to step out of her brother's shadow. Spanning several decades and two world wars, the story follows Bronia as she faces and overcomes numerous obstacles, such as the disapproval of her family and the gender norms of the time, on her journey towards worldwide recognition.
Bronia is the younger sister of one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century, Vaslav Nijinsky.
Finally, at #9, we have "Mr. Dickens and His Carol" by Samantha Silva. Despite being a successful author, Charles Dickens' latest novel, "Martin Chuzzlewit," is a flop. As a result of his failure, his publishers threaten to call in his debts unless he can come up with a Christmas story within the next few weeks. It's a heartwarming tale that aims to show the origin of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and how the events of his famous novella paralleled his life at the time.