Historical figures I’d love to read fiction about

Here’s a post at Rinn Reads: Female Historical Figures I’d Love To Read More Fiction About

Rinn’s picks are all really interesting women:

Ada Lovelace — the only legitimate child of the poet Byron, and was born in 1815. She was a mathematician and writer, and wrote the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.

Mary Seacole — a Jamaican woman who nursed wounded officers and soldiers during the Crimean War.

Katherine Ferrers — an English heiress, but also, according to popular legend, a female highwayman known by the name ‘The Wicked Lady’.

Gertrude Bell — a female archaeologist who worked during the 19th and 20th centuries. She was also a highly influential spy.

Click through to read a little more about all of those women. Don’t they all sound amazing? I’d never heard of Katherine Ferrers. And are you SURE Gertrude Bell was a real person? Because wow.

This so reminds me of some of the books on my wish list, books that I haven’t even got them onto my TBR pile yet. Starting with:


An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world, says Goodreads. Hatshepsut totally deserves to be the centerpiece of a novel or three. I really want to read this biography, but I would love fiction too.

Not quite the same thing, but I first learned about Hatshepsut by reading CJ Cherryh’s HEROS IN HELL, where she features as a secondary character. So does Cleopatra, although for her I immediately think of CLEOPATRA’S HEIR by Gillian Bradshaw. Cleopatra does not feature in that book herself, but she casts a long and rather terrible shadow over her son Caesarion. It’s a wonderful book, one of my favorites by Bradshaw.

And thinking about CLEOPATRA’S HEIR leads me to Augustus, who reminds me of another biography I haven’t read but want to:


Which takes me away from Rinn’s theme of historical women, but really, Augustus is a fascinating person. Someday I want to read that biography, and I see there is also a novel by John Edward Williams that sounds good.

The closest I’ve come to this idea recently — fiction about real historical figures — is of course ROSE UNDER FIRE. The main character was not a historical figure, but so many of the secondary characters were. I think that counts.

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5 thoughts on “Historical figures I’d love to read fiction about”

  1. There is at least one novel about Lady Ferrers, but the sample didn’t hold my interest.

    I’d add: Isabella of Aragon. Her daughter Katherine, and & I recently read a review of one about her, that covered her whole life, but that writer – Alison Weir – has never worked for me.

    Joan of Arc without fantasizing it.

    Margaret of Scotland, born in Hungary to exiled British royalty, came to England when Dad called back, fled to Scotland when William of Normandy tromped in and wound up queen.

    I know I’ve run across others, but they aren’t coming to mind.

    I wish Griffith would hurry up and finish the sequel to Hild.

  2. Try King and Goddess by Judith Tarr for Hatshepsut. (She’s also pivotal in my Pyramids world because she appealed to Amon-Re to save her daughter and got vampirism. )

  3. Andrea, REALLY? You have Hatshepsut in your Pyramids world? THAT IS SO COOL.

    And I thought I’d read everything by Judith Tarr, but I guess not that one, so thanks for the pointer to it.

    Elaine, yes, I too would love to see the second HILD book hit the shelves. Hopefully it won’t be *too* long now…

  4. Putting in a plug for my own favorite, Eleanor of Aquitaine. (EL Konigsburg wrote one, but I want more!)

    Ada Lovelace has a fascinating graphic novel biography of sorts–it’s actually a pocket universe where she and Charles Babbage go around fighting crime with the power of MATHEMATICS. But the author, Sydney Padua, has clearly done a TON of research and includes a lot of information in her extensive footnotes and endnotes. I also just read a biography of her mother, Annabella Milhouse Byron, which was very well done, imo–Lady Byron and Her Daughters by Julia Markus.

    There are so many fascinating women who’ve been largely forgotten! I’d love a good YA on Bessie Coleman, for example, or one of the Night Witches. Mackenzi Lee does a fun #BygoneBroads thread every Friday on Twitter, and I want to read a full-length book about almost every one of them.

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