Historical fiction is fiction where the setting is in a past era.  Authors who write historical fiction set their story in a historically accurate setting, but use either fictional characters or events or both.

The main rule in historical fiction writing is to avoid writing events that change what is already known about history. Example of these are Napoleon winning the Battle of Waterloo, preventing World War II, or the Apollo 13 rocket making a landing on the moon. Breaking this rule, causes the story to become historical fantasy and not fiction. 

Historical fiction is sometimes used to educate the reader about key historical events or how people lived in the past.

Some examples of historical fiction:

  • Little House in the Big Woods for young readers (starting about age 7), set in the mid 1800s in the U.S. West
  • The Help for adults, set early in the civil rights movement in the U.S.
  • Emma for young adults and adults, set in the late 1700s, also a comedy of manners, a humorous view of some of the social conventions of the upper classes at the time in England
  • The Last of the Mohicans - when parts of New York were still the "wild west".
  • Ivanhoe, a novel set in 12th century England.
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