Top of page

Best of the National Book Festival: Historical Novels, 2019

Share this post:

Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Each weekday, we will feature a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of our new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Mondays will feature topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literary fiction; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir; Thursday: popular fiction; and Friday: authors who write for children and teens. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection!

A panel on historical fiction featured novelists Margaret George and Philippa Gregory on the Genre Fiction stage of the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Margaret George is the New York Times bestselling author of novels of biographical historical fiction, including “Elizabeth I,” “Helen of Troy,” and “The Autobiography of Henry VIII.” She had recently published the final work in her two-book series: “The Confessions of Young Nero” and “The Splendor Before the Dark: A Novel of the Emperor Nero.” These works were the culmination of more than 30 years of Nero fascination and research.

Philippa Gregory has been called “the queen of British historical fiction” by AudioFile magazine. Her book “The Other Boleyn Girl,” winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists Association, has twice been adapted into a film. Many of her novels are set during England’s Tudor period, though she has written in other periods. Gregory discussed her novel “Tidelands.”

The authors spoke with Petra Mayer, fiction editor for NPR Books. Gregory, who usually writes about historical figures, said she wrote “Tidelands” because she wanted to write about a fictional character. “I’m free with [this character] in a way you simply can’t be free with someone whose story is on the record.” Q&A begins at 39:05.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.