Alternate History Books by Women
The BBC Radio 4 “Open Book” program recently characterized alternate history as “an exclusively male domain in terms of authorship.” While some exceptions were noted, including speculative fiction by Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Marge Piercy, neither the presenter nor her guest appeared familiar with more recent alternate history books by women. Fortunately, female-authored alternate history is alive and well. To clear up the BBC’s misconception, and to introduce you to some novels you may not have come across, here’s a list of alternate history books written by women.
Alternate History Books by Women
This list is intended to be a starter, rather than exhaustive. With one exception (to show that women writing alternate history is nothing new), it includes a sample of novels published in English within the last decade or so. It thus does not include short stories, novellas and anthologies. It also leaves out the many alternate histories by women that fall into the science fiction, steampunk, fantasy or time travel categories, as well as books intended primarily for children and teenagers.
The Professor in Erin by Lily (Charlotte Elizabeth) McManus (1918)
What if Hugh O’Neill won the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, ending English rule in Ireland?
(This is the oldest alternate history book by a woman listed on Uchronia.)
The Romanitas Trilogy by Sophia McDougall (2005-2011)
What if the Roman Empire never fell?
The Small Change Series by Jo Walton (2006-2008)
What if Britain made peace with Adolf Hitler in 1941?
Eleanor vs. Ike by Robin Gerber (2008)
What if Eleanor Roosevelt replaced Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 election?
Clopton’s Short History of the Confederate States of America 1861-1925 by Carole Scott (2011)
What if the Confederacy won the American Civil War?
Margot by Jillian Cantor (2013)
What if Anne Frank’s sister Margot escaped the Nazis and went to the United States?
The Boleyn Trilogy/Tudor Legacy Series by Laura Anderson (2013-2016)
What if King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had a son?
What if Queen Elizabeth I and King Philip II of Spain had a daughter?
The Roma Nova Series by Alison Morton (2013-2017)
What if a small, female-ruled remnant of the Roman Empire survived into the modern era?
The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Tsarina’s Legacy by Jennifer Laam (2013, 2016)
What if a secret fifth daughter of the Romanov family continued the Russian royal lineage?
Napoleon in America by Shannon Selin (2014)
What if Napoleon escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States?
The Enemy Within by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (2014)
What if FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was murdered three months after John F. Kennedy’s assassination?
My Real Children by Jo Walton (2014)
What if John F. Kennedy was killed by a bomb in 1963? Or what if he chose not to run in 1964 after an escalated Cuban Missile Crisis led to the nuclear obliteration of Miami and Kiev?
A Set of Lies by Carolyn McCrae (2015)
What if the British Secret Service convinced Napoleon to work with them after his 1815 defeat, substituting a double for him on St. Helena?
Between Two Kings by Olivia Longueville (2015)
What if Anne Boleyn escaped execution?
False Lights by K.J. Whittaker (2017)
What if Napoleon crushed the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, and his ex-wife Josephine presided over French-occupied England?
Kingdom of the Wicked Book One: Rules and Book Two: Order by Helen Dale (2017, 2018)
What if Jesus Christ had been around during the time of a Roman Empire that had experienced an industrial revolution?
I invite readers to add other alternate history books by women in the comments.
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We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.