10 Amazing Sub-Genre’s in Historical Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing.com

10 amazing thingsHistorical Fiction as a literary genre is generously broad and notoriously ambiguous in that the beginning of man can be included in the same spectrum of writing as our own recent Wild West. It was bound to happen then that sooner or later sub-genres would be broken out.

What is Historical?

In that it depicts and closely associates the period’s social conditions, manners, clothing, and environmental factors, the story can capture any century or millennia from the dawn of man. Generally, “historical” refers to publications written at least 50 years after the event. Considering an extended time frame, therefore, an author would usually be assumed to be writing from research rather than from experience. (In the relatively unusual case of my grandfather’s manuscripts, however, they were written some time shortly after his “sailing, mining, prospecting, and cowpoke days,” over 90 years ago but only recently published by myself.)

So if it’s all historical fiction, what are the ten sub-genres?
  1. Documentary fiction (i.e., Ragtime (1975) by E.L. Doctorow)
  2. Fictional biographies (i.e., Margaret George and her The Memoirs of Cleopatra)
  3. Historical mysteries
  4. Historical romance and family sagas (i.e., Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)
  5. Nautical and pirate fiction (i.e., Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Stanley McShane’s Cocos Island Treasure)
  6. Alternate history and historical fantasy (i.e., most anything Isaac Asimov)
  7. Children’s historical fiction
  8. Multi-period sagas (becoming increasingly more popular)
  9. Western historical novels
  10. Christian historical novels (i.e., Janette Oke novels popularized by the series “When Calls the Heart.”)

The sub-genres of historical fiction certainly include more categories than the above, such as historical literary fiction or speculative historical fiction, or is that simply included in #6 above? (What if the Romans were still a world power? Or the Japanese had taken Pearl Harbor? Or the Germans won WW2?) I suppose you could continue to divide historical fiction categories ad nauseum.

Among the earliest historical fiction was Classical Greek, whose novelists wrote what might even be considered “epic poetry,” including The Iliad. There is a wealth of stories beginning 500 AD considered Middle Ages, then successively through the Early Modern Period from 1500 to the Napoleonic and recent history beginning approximately 1850. The protagonists or characters may be fictional characters of the time or well-known figures of history–or a mix of the two.

The Eye of NefertitiEarly in 2017, I read The Eye of Nefertiti by Maria Luisa Lang. But this was not just a historical fiction saga–it included elements of historical fantasy (see #6 above). One of my favorite authors, Amanda Hughes, writes historical fiction with a sprinkle of romance (see #4 above). The Dirty Parats of the Bible by Sam TorodeAnd then there was The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode (set during the depression), also a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award (I loved that book!), considered Historical Literary Fiction. I reviewed So Much Owed by Jean Grainer set during WW2 (definitely #4 above) that was a favorite of 2017.

In the case of my grandfather’s manuscripts, of course, he wrote about the period approximately 1882 – 1935. Stanley McShane’s literary hero was Jack London, his contemporary and also early 1900 San Francisco resident. (Both men survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)

Jack London is famous for his historical fiction novels, The Call of the Wild and White Fang, set about the same period as McShane’s Busters of Bitter River.

For that novel, McShane lived on a cattle ranch in Arizona for some time and learned to rope, drive cattle, and generally be a “cowpoke.” Both London and McShane visited Goldfield, Nevada, where mining stocks were being touted and later noted in McShane’s book, Hot Air Promotions. (It would seem a possibility they crossed paths more than once.)

The history of man even in just the last century lends itself to so many wonderful ideas, historical plots, characters, and colorful stories. According to the Historical Novel Society, approximately “40% of all (historical) adult novels reviewed over the latter part of 2017 were set in the 20th century.” Indeed, according to the same source, the 19th-century stats drop to little more than half of the 20th century. (The why is another whole article.)

Historical fiction was listed among the eight most popular genres. (You can no doubt guess what is #1.*) However, try as I might, I could find no current breakdown of popularity by genre with any source that agreed with another. However, it would appear that in 2022 the genre might have dropped to #10 with new categories gaining traction in the upper ten. Perhaps you have a definitive source, or link to answer the question. I’d sure love to see it! ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!



Author: Rosepoint Publishing

I am the granddaughter of Patrick John "Stanley McShane" Rose whose books including "Cocos Island Treasure" I've recently published. My time is now spent in reading, reviewing, and writing bookish articles. I'm looking forward to sharing this social media odyssey with you!

3 thoughts on “10 Amazing Sub-Genre’s in Historical Fiction”

  1. The list is endless really, because every genre can be a sub-genre of historical fiction. Crime, thriller, psychological thriller, murder, zombies, ghosts and supernatural and so on. That is the beauty of it is that it can be anything set in any time period.


I love comments, ideas, and sharing. I will respond to you shortly!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Roars and Echoes

Where the power of my thoughts comes from the craft of writing.

Sareh Lovasen

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Historical Fiction

Prady On The Beat

Jack of all trades, master of few

Medicina, Cultura, e Legge.

Articoli su Medicina, Legge e Diritto, ma anche Aforismi, Riflessioni, e Poesie.

Kiran ✨

Reading And Writing is the best Investment of Time ✨ ( Motivational Thoughts) "LIFE IS A JOURNEY"

Taking On a World of Words

Homepage for fledgling writer Sam A. Stevens

Reading Is My SuperPower


Psychic Devis

Lane is mine!🚦🚙😊

Barb Taub

Writing & Coffee. Especially coffee.

Learning with Life

A learner for life….wants to live fully….destination matter so does the journey…every movement to feel alive…and die with peace in eyes…being me…

Premier Tech Studios

You press Digital, We Do The Rest


Truth to Light

Reading with My Eyes

lots of tales from the spine, your place for book reviews of all kinds

Oma's Minute

The heart and thoughts of man is broad. I share reasonings that alot of people out there needs to hear and hopefully adds value to their world***

beauty care products

I am a blogger of beauty care products


Short Story Blogger

Emma's Writing Things

A place to share the things that I write

An Amyzing Journey

A spiritual journey with adventures & side quests


memories and musings

Scribbles 'n Bits

Original poetry, short stories, and other bits.



Let's talk

Vibe alone for a while

Barbara Crane Navarro

Rainforest Art Project - Pas de Cartier !

RealStuff by RealMe

Before, After, Then, Now and NEVER!

Islamic Dua and Wazifa For Love back and Solve All problems

Love problem Solution in just 2 Days: Lost love back, ex love back, ex husband back, ex boyfriend and other all love problem Solution. Call and Whatsapp +91 9571300113

Poetic reflections

Poetry and expression of ideas

Julia's Bookshelves

Book Reviews and Book Adventures


Book Reviews, Tags, Vlogs, & More.


I read, rant and write ;)

Beneath The Bones

seeking inspiration

Learning Thursdays

It is hard to fail, but worse to have never tried - Abraham Lincoln


arbindkumar475151597. wordpress.com

Bhuvana Chakra

The Power of Living God Ministries

The Wild Coach

You are an important nexus of energy


Blog do jornalista e professor Solon Saldanha

Happiness for a moment with you....

I'm glad I learned to express my thoughts clearly and everyone loves to read them. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking power to think about the surroundings. Someone who likes it, someone who enjoys it, appreciates that he is writing very well. Reading and commenting on the post I wrote would give me a lot of bullshit and I would get new ideas to write new ones. I'm really glad I got your response.

Brian Cook's Blog

When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers. - Oscar Wilde

Writing Roses

Welcome to the Roses

%d bloggers like this: