Welcome to my monthly post on all things historical fiction. For my first Musings post of the year, I am looking back at the historical fiction I read in 2021 and have put together my usual selection of charts and lists! I have kept the same categories I’ve used for the previous five years so that it should be easy to make comparisons and to see if there have been any interesting changes in my reading patterns and choices (my 2020 post is here, 2019 here, 2018 here, 2017 here and 2016 here).
Before I begin, just a reminder that I do actually read other genres but haven’t included those books in these stats!
Time periods read about in 2021
In 2020, the 17th century was the most popular time period for my historical fiction reading; I still read a lot of 17th century novels in 2021, but the 20th century was the clear winner this time.
Of the 15 books I read set in the 20th century, 7 took place during World War II, one during World War I and the rest in other decades.
39% of the historical fiction authors I read in 2021 were new to me.
This is more than the previous year’s 32%, but obviously I’m still most drawn to books by authors I’ve previously read and enjoyed.
Here are three books I’ve read by new-to-me historical fiction authors in 2021:
Publication dates of books read in 2021
I’m still mostly reading new or recently released historical fiction, which is due mainly to the temptations of NetGalley. I really want to read more older books this year.
10 of my historical reads in 2021 were historical mysteries.
Here are three of the historical mysteries I read last year:
I read historical fiction set in 14 different countries in 2021.
I’m disappointed with this, as 14 is the smallest number of countries I’ve read about in my yearly historical fiction reads since 2017. As usual, more than half of the books I read were set in my own country, England, but France, Scotland and Ireland were the next most popular settings. I say this every year, but I’m determined to read about a wider range of countries in 2022!
Three books I read last year set in countries other than my own:
Four historical men I read about in 2021:
John Milton (The Protector by SJ Deas)
William Fowler (Rose Nicolson by Andrew Greig)
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman)
William de Valence (A Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick)
Four historical women I read about in 2021:
Margaret Mautby Paston (The Royal Game by Anne O’Brien)
Frances Griffiths (The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor)
Katharine Parr (Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir)
Frances Cromwell (The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins)
What about you? Did you read any good historical fiction last year? Have you read any of the books or authors I’ve mentioned here and have you noticed any patterns or trends in your own reading?