A Renaissance of Historical Romance
Authors who helped shape the genre.
In the last few years, there has been a renaissance of historical romance in pop culture. We see novels being turned into films and television programs constantly, from the film adaptations of Jane Austen novels to TV series like Starz’s The White Queen. With Open Road’s wonderful collection of historical romances, we wanted to highlight a few authors who helped shape the genre.
Janet Dailey is a pioneer of romance novels and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for writing her Americana series, which includes 50 books—one set in each state in the US. To complete this massive undertaking, Dailey and her husband, Bill, traveled the country and conducted exhaustive research in order to represent each state accurately.
Philippa Carr, one of the many pseudonyms of Eleanor Hibbert, wrote historical fiction set throughout English history. Her novels were rich in detail and extensively researched, focusing on “women of integrity and strong character . . . struggling for liberation, fighting for their own survival.” She was so committed to historicals that her goal was “to have written the whole panorama of English history from the Norman Conquest to the death of Victoria.”
Amanda Scott, who is known for her Scottish romance, received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose before taking on the challenge of writing a historical novel. Scott says, “[The] intersection of history and romance offers readers both a serious understanding of the past and a blissful escape from the present.” She says, “Any good writer has relationships in their books. I mean, if you stop and think about it, Tom Clancy puts a romance in every one of his books. . . . I think that the historicals appeal to people who want something more complex. . . . It’s escape, and the further you can escape the better, I think.”
Ellen Jones, who focused on 12th-century Europe, was raised by history teachers and was encouraged from an early age to appreciate and pursue the past. This month’s Retro Reads selection is Jones’s The Fatal Crown, a beautiful work that tells the thorny story of two royal heirs who fall in love while competing for the English crown. Jones uses this passionate relationship to survey and shed character on the changing course of English history.