11 Classic Works of Scottish Historical Fiction
Books that bring Scottish history to life
The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was launched in 2010, with Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall winning the inaugural prize. Whilst the prize is based in Scotland and honours Sir Walter Scott’s achievements as the inventor of the genre, books do not have to be by Scottish authors or set in Scotland; indeed Andrew Greig’s Fair Helen is the only Scottish book thus far to have been shortlisted for the prize, in 2014. In 2012 the Prize extended to entries from the Commonwealth countries, and it was won in 2013 by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng. Its other winners include Andrea Levy, Sebastian Barry, Robert Harris and, this year, John Spurling. Winners are presented at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, in June every year.
In keeping with the spirit of Walter Scott’s own output, the criteria for the prize are ‘originality, innovation, and longevity of the work, with quality of writing as the deciding factor’. Books must be set at least 60 years ago, taking a cue from the subtitle of Scott’s best-known work, Waverley: ‘tis sixty years since’.
Here is our choice of the best historical fiction by Scottish authors.