English 1101


Historical Novel

A Historical novel, also known as historical fiction, is a literary genre with a narrative that takes place in the past. Typically, historical books are written at least 30-50 years after the historical event. Each detail of the story must fit the period in which the narrative takes place.

Historical novels combine fiction and reality. Some authors choose to use historical characters and well-known places while others use fictional characters in historical events. Usually, these characters are involved in a conflict.

First appearances

Historical novels date back to the early XIX century during romanticism when it took the rise of the hand of Walter Scott. He published a series of books set in the English Middle Ages, including events and characters of that time. Afterward, countless authors in Europe and America launched into the production of historical novels such as the French Victor Hugo, the Italian Alexandro Manzoni, the American James Fenimore, among others.

Through time the historical novel has been adapting to the narrative evolution of the time, introducing all kinds of novelties and currently enjoying good popularity.


The main characteristic of this type of novel is the realistic, historic setting. Unlike other genres, historical fiction is faithful to reality and objectivity; even though it may incorporate elements of fantasy, it must maintain a historical base.

Another feature is the real characters. Although the main character is fictional, the supporting characters tend to be real historical figures. These characters must accurately represent the ideas, opinions, values, behaviors, and habits of the period in which the story is described.

Cultural understanding is something that characterizes all historical novels. The author must be culturally documented to represent the time described accurately. Usually, characters face problems and have sociocultural concerns about the living time, giving to readers an overview of how life was at that period.

Historical novel books

La fiesta del chivo (The party of the goat)

This novel is centered on the assassination of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in 1961, which took place in the Dominican Republic.

It shows the height of the dictatorship in the ‘60s and its significance for the island and its inhabitants. The novel’s topics include corruption, abuse of power, sexism, and the sexual perversion that prevailed.

As is normal in this type of novels, the author changed and deformed many things to make the story more striking but keeping the historical events intact such as the murder of the dictator, the murder of the Mirabal sisters and the persecution of the murderers.


 This historical novel with touches of fantasy is about a young British woman who went on a historical journey with her husband to Scotland after 1cthe Second World War. In a mystical event, she crosses a stone that transports her to Scotland in 1734. The story narrates the battle of Culloden, political issues and clans (a type of community organization).

Although the story is full of fiction and fantasy, the author manages to describe the history of Scotland for those years, as well as the rudeness and meaning of life that existed at that time.


This novel goes back to the 1700s to the life and successive generations of a young man named Kunta Kinte, who is taken from his birthplace “Africa” ​​and shipped to the United States where he is sold as slave. Here the atrocious history of Africans subjected to mistreatment, cruelty and discrimination is narrated, all from the biographical approach of Kunta Kinte.

This historical fiction shows African customs, doctrines and rites. The author explains in detail what is unfamiliar to the reader and adds words in Mandinga, the protagonist’s mother tongue.

The author of roots wanted to assure the reader of its veracity by placing documentation at the end of the book, although this cannot be fully verified.

The other Boleyn girl

Inspired by the life of the aristocrat Mary Boleyn and her love affair with King Henry VIII, this novel shows the elegant settings of 16th century England.

The plot is based on the love affair between Mary Boleyn and her sister Anne Boleyn for King Henry VIII, who is also married to Queen Catherine of Aragon.

It is a true story with real characters, although not entirely accurate in dates, characteristics of the characters and love affairs presented in the novel. The society, hierarchies and social status of the time play an essential role in the narrative.

Child of the morning

In a journey through ancient Egypt, Child of the morning recounts the reign of the first female pharaoh in the 1490s BC, at a time when man was the dominant culture. The ancient customs, polytheism as the prevailing religious system and the great monuments and buildings of the time embellish this history. Hatshepsut, who reigned over 22 years is described as a political strategist full of brilliant ideas and military successes, positioning herself firmly in a man’s world.

Much of the history of this pharaoh is unknown, therefore, it has not been possible to corroborate everything written by the author, but even so, her story is still fascinating.

Found Patterns: Historical Novel Books

Historical novel books have specific and repetitive patterns that make them different from other novelistic genres. Some of them are:

* The cover: historical novels mostly contain illustrations of old buildings (child of the morning) as well as period objects and costumes (see the other Boleyn girl and Outlander). They use not very vibrant and dark colors such as black, brown or sepia. Generally, those colors transmit the feeling of the past, old or vintage.

* Conflict: To reach the world in which we live today full of freedoms, open thoughts and inclusivity, our ancestors dealt with wars, revolutionary and independence movements and anti-slavery struggles. When it talks about history, all these topics come to light, being an essential piece in the plot of this type of novel.

* Social stratification: In ancient times, slavery, hierarchies, social classes and inequality were well marked in society. For this reason, historical novels openly show this type of social life typical of past times. In the books Roots, the other Boleyn girl and Outlander this sociopolitical and economic division can be appreciated.


In general, historical novels seek to bring a historical period to life in an engaging and memorable way. These novels allow the reader to move back in time by telling stories of real characters. Although many of these stories are fictitious, they provide the reader with real historical data and entertainment.


The type of public for this genre used to be intellectual people, lovers of history and the traditional, but as new narrative trends have been incorporated, the circle has expanded, already counting with a wide range of loyal fans of all kinds.