Five Time Periods To Inspire You To Write Historical Fiction

@Rebecca Clearwater looks at the 5 most popular time periods to write about


The Wars of the Roses

Now this time period is an untapped time period that could make for an interesting story. The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic wars, from 1455 to 1487. It was, essentially, a bitter and ongoing fight for royal power between England's most powerful families, the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The hit book series and TV show, "Game of Thrones", was inspired by the Wars of the Roses, and the character of Cersei Lannister is said to be inspired by two different queens in the Wars of the Roses era­ Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret of Anjou. Both were different in upbringing, but both knew how to obtain power, and both would do whatever they could to keep it.

The Wars of the Roses lasted thirty ­two years, until the battle was won by the House of Lancaster, and the throne went to Henry Tudor, father of Henry VIII, infamous for marrying six wives so as to produce an heir.

Book to read: "The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory

TV show to watch: "The White Queen" (2013)

Why you should write about this time period:

The Wars of the Roses was essentially a long struggle for power, and wealthy families became more and more ruthless in their search for it. The search for power is a topic that has always come up in the arts­ films, poetry, literature especially. Why don't you try put your own unique twist on it?


The Tudors

Well, we lead nicely onto the subject of possibly one of the most beastly families: The Tudors.


The Tudors were in power from 1487 to 1603. Perhaps the most famous Tudor ruler was Henry VIII, a man famous for his obesity, his marriages and his self­obsession. He wasdesperate to produce a male heir, and so married six women throughout his life, divorcing and executing all his wives, apart from Jane Seymour, who died days after childbirth. Only one male heir was produced: Edward, who was placed on the throne at nine, and died at sixteen. Due to Henry's power and status, he no doubt had mistresses, and most likely did bear a male child in his lifetime. However, as these children were born out of wedlock, they would not have been recognized as royalty.

But while Tudor times were grisly and not that pleasant­ the Tudors weren't exactly live-and ­let ­live people­ they did stand for something. Elizabeth Tudor overtook her older half-
sister Mary Queen of Scots as ruler, and England became stable under her forty­five year rule. English playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe flourished, and the English Renaissance was in its full swing in Elizabeth's reign.

Elizabeth never married or bore children as she was expected to, and died known as"The Virgin Queen".

Book to read: "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory

Movie to watch: "Elizabeth" (1998)

Why you should write about this time period:

If you like writing and reading about gore and scandal, the Tudor time is a perfect time period to write about­ Henry VIII had two wives executed, and was obsessed with producing a male heir. His daughter Elizabeth, had many suitors and courtships but never married, causing scandal. If gore and scandal is your niche, why not write about the Tudors?


World War II

World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, and was the bloodiest and goriest war that Europe has ever known. World War II was the Allies (England, America, Britain, France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Yugoslavia and South Africa) against the Axis (Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria).

In this period the Holocaust occurred, and over six million Jews were killed. The war left many countries ravaged, as the Allies and the Axis fought for their countries.

Books to read: "Night" by Elie Wiesel, The Diary of Anne Frank, "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne

Movies to watch: "Downfall" (2004) "The Pianist" (2002) "Schindler's List" (1993) "Wunderkinder" (2011)

Why you should write about this time period: There is so much to write about with World War II. One particular aspect that is focused on in literature is the Holocaust­ not only were there people allowing Jewish people to be carried off to concentration camps like cattle, there were people who helped them, who hid them, who protected them. There is simply so much to write about.


The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties was a time of great joy, excitement, euphoria and freedom. It has been infamously documented in F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel "The Great Gatsby". 

During 1920s America, there was a ban on alcohol. However, this ban was usually disobeyed­ and many men became millionaires on bootlegging alcohol to people who could afford it.

Girls, who before the 1920s had been expected to be quiet, polite, modest and demure,began to rebel and cut their hair into bobs, wore short dresses, danced the Charleston (which was seen as quite a vulgar and scandalous dance) and smoked and drank, essentially skewering all expectations of themselves.

Wall Street was booming, people who had been poor their whole lives were now self-made millionaires, and people were having the time of their lives­ however, that was soon to end, with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. This crash was to lead America into the Great Depression, a time of true poverty that lasted for ten years and affected all Western industrialised countries.

Books to read: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Bee's Trap" by our very own movellian CountingConstellations!

Movies to watch: "The Great Gatsby" (2013)

Why you should write about this time period:

The 1920s were a time of raucous parties, power and high society. Never has there been a more glamourous decade than the 1920s.


The Swinging Sixties

*puts on fedora*


This is my niche.


If I had to time­travel to any period, I would choose the sixties. In a heartbeat. I'd choose the sixties because the world was changing, in such a special way­ of course, the world is still changing, any newspaper will tell you that, not necessarily for the better-it was being changed by music. Music and what music was viewed as had changed in the sixties, and in return, music was changing the run of history.


Bob Dylan was a part of the civilrights movement, and wrote protest songs that challenged politicians and forced peopleto see what their country had become­ a place of racism.


The Beatles may seem tame in comparison to Bob Dylan's and I quote: "finger­pointin' songs" but "Revolution" was one biting political song, and "Piggies" was a scathing socialcommentary. They were unafraid to make the world a better place, and call out what waswrong.


The 60s was a time of change, and an influential time, especially for music.


Books to read: "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village". Honestly,

this book perfectly captures the 60s folk­protest scene. Also: GO SUZE ROTOLO!

Movies to watch: "A Hard Day's Night", "Quadrophenia" and "I'm Not There" all perfectly capture the clashing cultures occurring in the 1960s

Why you should write about this time period:

I am going to be all sassy and say: Why SHOULDN'T you write about this time period?!


You've got the Civil Rights movement, you've got The Beatles, you've got protests, you've got cultures blossoming from the cornerstones of cities shrouded in poverty. You've got people once placed in the boxes society made for them, breaking out of them and fighting for their rights.


And most importantly, you have life. You have life flowering and changing like it never had before.


Whoa, I went off on a bit of a tangent there.

But this time period is really special to me, and I know there must be a time period you're fascinated about as well.

So why not write about it?

Loading ...