The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction: A Wishlist


The deadline for publishers to submit books published in 2017 for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018 is fast approaching (31st January).  As a historical fiction fan, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the longlist and the ‘Academy Recommends’ list in February.  Last year, I only managed to read the shortlisted novels but this year I intend to read, if possible, all the longlisted novels (where I haven’t read them already).

Which leads me to the purpose of this post.  Here are some of the historical fiction novels I read in 2017 that I’d love to see make the longlist (subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria).  In addition, some books I haven’t got around to reading yet but which, judging from reviews, potentially deserve a place on the longlist.

(My early tips: Irish authors seem to do particularly well – perhaps Banville, Boyne and Toibin might fight it out? – and surely it would be lovely for Helen Dunmore to be recognised, albeit posthumously.)

Books I read in 2017 (click on title for my review)

Shelter by Sarah Franklin (Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre)

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik (Publisher: Fig Tree)

Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy (Publisher: Head of Zeus)

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Publisher: Hutchinson)

The Watch House by Bernie McGill (Publisher: Tinder Press)

Anne Boleyn: The King’s Obsession by Alison Weir (Publisher: Headline)

In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant (Publisher: Virago)

Widdershins by Helen Steadman (Publisher: Impress Books)

The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath (Publisher: Hutchinson)

House of Names by Colm Toibin (Publisher: Scribner)


Books on the grapevine (click on title for Goodreads entry)

The Last Tudor by Phillipa Gregory (Publisher: Touchstone)

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Publisher: Hogarth)

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig (Publisher: Canongate)  [My outlier – does it even count as historical fiction?]

Mrs Osmond by John Banville (Publisher: Hamish Hamilton)

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (Publisher: Viking)

Munich by Robert Harris (Publisher: Hutchinson)

  • Is your favourite on my list? 
  • What other historical fiction novels published in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth in 2017 are worthy of nomination?
  • Come back in February to see how my picks match the judges’ choices…

9 thoughts on “The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction: A Wishlist

  1. I also follow this prize and am slowly working through all of the shortlists since it began in 2010. I haven’t read all the books you’ve mentioned here, but I think Birdcage Walk, House of Names, Munich and In the Name of the Family would have a good chance of being on the longlist. It would be good to see John Boyne get some recognition too. Looking forward to the announcement in February!

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  2. Fascinating set of books – and i’ve only managed to read Witchfinder and How to Stop Time and enjoyed both. I still have Shelter on my pile to read so hope to get that soon! Will be eagerly awaiting the final list! 🙂

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  3. I’ve only read three of them – House of Names, Birdcage Walk and Munich – and of those, Munich would be my choice by quite a big margin. I hadn’t realise there had been so many big-name historical fiction novels released last year – quite a list!

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