The most recommended books about the Battle of Waterloo

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to the Battle of Waterloo, and here are their favorite Battle of Waterloo books.
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Book cover of Men of Honour

Philip K. Allan Author Of The Captain's Nephew

From my list on the Age of Sail for lovers of the period.

Who am I?

I have a passion for ships and the sea which I try and bring to my writing. I was first drawn to the Age of Sail by earlier novelists in the genre who opened my eyes to a fascinating world. I went on to study the 18th-century navy at university, I sail myself whenever I can, and have always loved the sea. When I decided to give up a well-paid job in industry to try my hand as an author, there was only one genre for me.

Philip's book list on the Age of Sail for lovers of the period

Philip K. Allan Why did Philip love this book?

2005 saw the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar, and a slew of books about the engagement. The best of the lot was Men of Honour. In it Nicolson broadens his focus away from the mechanics of the battle to explore the psychology of the protagonists and explains the world they grew up in so that the reader understands why they acted in the ways that they did. Good history answers the ‘what happened’ question. Great history lets you understand why.      

By Adam Nicolson, Adam Nicolson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Men of Honour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unforgettable look at the contradictions of heroism, as embodied by Horatio Nelson and as tested by the battle of Trafalgar. Adam Nicolson looks at the variety of qualities - ruthlessness, bravery, kindness, cruelty - that combined in both Nelson and his troops to carry that fateful day.

Trafalgar gripped the nineteenth century imagination like no other battle: it was a moment of both transcendent fulfilment and unmatched despair. It was a drama of such violence and sacrifice that the concept of total war may be argued to start from there. It finished the global ambitions of a European tyrant…

Book cover of An Infamous Army

Judith Cutler Author Of The Wages of Sin

From my list on where the past is another country.

Who am I?

I always wanted to be an archaeologist and literally dig up the past, touching objects telling me about people I could never know. Why did Shetland Celts make spherical stone balls? Whose hand held that bone needle? Was that a natural or a sacrificial death? In a different way, using the great gifts of words and imagination, reading historical fiction satisfies the same desire. Yes, that was what it felt like to work for William I, known in his time as William the Bastard; yes, that was how it felt to fear for your partner’s life every time he went to sea or into battle. Please, let these books open your eyes, your mind, too.

Judith's book list on where the past is another country

Judith Cutler Why did Judith love this book?

Georgette Heyer’s frothy Regency romances are the sort of books you want to read when you have flu – chicken soup for the soul, if you like.

They’re all beautifully researched and wittily written – and they have a Happy Ending that makes you sigh with satisfaction. This is one of her rare serious books, set in Brussels in June, 1815 – the eve of Waterloo.

Yes, there is romance – but it is only part of a serious and gritty examination of warfare at the time.

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An Infamous Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you love Bridgerton, you'll love Georgette Heyer!

'The greatest writer who ever lived' ANTONIA FRASER
'My generation's Julia Quinn' ADJOA ANDOH
'One of the wittiest, most insightful and rewarding prose writers imaginable' STEPHEN FRY

1815, and the British and French armies are massing ahead of one of the greatest battles of all time ...

Occupied by the British, Brussels however is en fete.

And Lady Barbara Childe, renowned for being as fashionable as she is beautiful, is at the centre of all that is fashionable and light-hearted.

When she meets Charles Audley, the dashing aide de camp to…

Book cover of Tourists: How the British Went Abroad to Find Themselves

Paul Dowswell Author Of Aliens: The Chequered History of Britain's Wartime Refugees

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Traveler Researcher Educator Musician

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Paul Dowswell Why did Paul love this book?

I love books that tell me things about history that I didn’t know. Here, Lucy Lethbridge turns in a fascinating non-fiction on the early years of the tourist trade.

The book is full of memorable ‘Fancy That!’ anecdotes and also sheds light on the foibles and snobbery of the British. For example, some feared the arrival of rail transport, which allowed ordinary people to travel to exciting new places, would foster moral lassitude and idleness.

And what about the Swiss health resort of Davos, which almost overnight became a magnet for tourists and invalids seeking clean, rejuvenating Alpine fresh air but was rapidly rendered unfit for purpose because the huge influx of visitors overwhelmed the town’s basic sanitary system?

By Lucy Lethbridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tourists as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*FOYLES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH* 'I really can't recommend this enough - especially if you are going on holiday' Tom Holland 'Delightful ... Lucy Lethbridge has written a glorious romp of a book' Kathryn Hughes, The Mail on Sunday 'It is the paramount wish of every English heart, ever addicted to vagabondizing, to hasten to the Continent...' In 1815 the Battle of Waterloo brought to an end the Napoleonic Wars and the European continent opened up once again to British tourists. The nineteenth century was to be an age driven by steam technology, mass-industrialisation and movement, and, in the…

Book cover of To Prove I’m Not Forgot: Living And Dying In A Victorian City

Chris Nickson Author Of Brass Lives

From my list on Leeds as it was.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Leeds and moved back here in 2013. My ancestors first came here a couple of hundred years ago. The place is my passion, but it’s also in my DNA. I write historical crime novels, many of them set in Leeds between 1730 and 1957. I know this place through the soles of my feet. My work means constantly researching its history, trying to understand this city, how it shifts and changes, and the people who call it home. The longer I continue, the greater my fascination, and the deeper I dive to keep learning more. These books all beat with the heart of Leeds.

Chris' book list on Leeds as it was

Chris Nickson Why did Chris love this book?

This tells the story, not just of Beckett Street Cemetery, supposedly the oldest municipal cemetery in the UK, but more important of those buried there, both rich and poor (and there are plenty of both). It sits across the road from what was once Leeds Workhouse, and has its share of former inmates from there in unmarked graves. Poignantly, there’s are also many guinea graves, where several are buried on top of each other, names listed on a headstone, all for a guinea (just over a pound). In its tales, this becomes a 19th-century social history of Leeds – there’s even a survivor of the Battle of Waterloo buried there. Not a widely-known book, but it has a wonderful, quiet importance. I have relatives in unmarked, guinea, and regular graves.

By Sylvia M. Barnard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Prove I’m Not Forgot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the growth of English cities during the Industrial Revolution came a booming population too vast for churchyards. Beckett Street Cemetery in Leeds was to become the first municipal cemetery in the country. This study relates how the cemetery was started and run, and describes the developing feuds between denominations. The author draws upon newspaper articles, archive material and municipal records to tell the stories of many of the people who lie there, from tiny infants, soldiers and victims of crime to those who perished in the great epidemics of Victorian England. The study throws new light on the occupations…

Book cover of Miss Delectable

Meg Benjamin Author Of The Pumpkin Butter Murder

From my list on when you’re feeling peckish.

Who am I?

I love cooking, almost as much as I love eating. One of the great advantages of writing a series where the heroine is a jam maker is that it gives me a chance to experiment with jams, as well as other dishes Roxy shares with her family and friends. I live in a place where fresh fruit comes tumbling onto the market all summer: raspberries, peaches, apricots, blackberries, and cherries. You’re hardly through with one before the next appears on your plate. Making it into jam is fun, but writing about it is even better. And reading about someone else’s food loves is a special kind of pleasure. Bon appétit!

Meg's book list on when you’re feeling peckish

Meg Benjamin Why did Meg love this book?

Burrowes’s Mischief in Mayfair series of regency romances specializes in strong heroines with unusual occupations (unusual for the regency period, anyway). For Ann Pearson it’s cooking.

Her luscious pastries attract the attention of Orion Goddard, a Waterloo veteran with a troubled past. Burrowes’s descriptions of Ann’s pies and tarts will send you to the kitchen, longing for some apple pie with lots of spice. And, of course, in the end Ann and Orion both triumph over the social forces opposing them, like any good romance couple.

By Grace Burrowes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Delectable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miss Ann Pearson has spent years learning the difficult art of the professional cook, and carefully guards her position in the kitchen of the fancy Coventry Club. When Colonel Sir Orion Goddard asks her to take on a young apprentice, Ann would rather refuse. But Orion is respectful, gruffly charming, and looking out for a girl whom others have neglected, and that is a combination Ann cannot resist.

Lingering scandal has taught Orion to make his way along the fringes of polite society without allies or entanglements. Then he meets Ann, who is fierce, passionate, and warm-hearted, and also worth…

Book cover of Wellington's Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox

Joanne Major Author Of A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History

From my list on the untold lives of women throughout history.

Who am I?

I often feel as if I live with one foot in the present, and one in the past. It’s always been the little-known stories that fascinate me the most, especially women’s history. Their lives can be harder to research, but more rewarding for that. As a writer and historian, it has been wonderful to discover the histories of intriguing but ‘overlooked’ women, and to share their tales. I hope you enjoy reading the books I have selected as much as I did!

Joanne's book list on the untold lives of women throughout history

Joanne Major Why did Joanne love this book?

A romantic attachment between Lady Georgina ‘Georgy’ Lennox, later Baroness de Ros, and the Duke of Wellington matured into a long-lasting friendship. Georgy was present at the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball, held before the Battle of Waterloo. Through Georgy’s eyes, we gain a different perspective on events—and people—that we thought we knew all about. This is a fascinating look at the life of a little-known woman who was a first-hand witness to some of the most important events of her era.

By Alice Marie Crossland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wellington's Dearest Georgy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using largely unpublished sources, this book tells the story of Lady Georgiana Lennox and the unique friendship she cherished with the Duke of Wellington. She first met the Duke on his return from India when he was serving under Georgy's father as Chief Secretary. The Lennox family moved to Brussels in 1813 and Georgy's mother the Duchess of Richmond threw the now legendary ball the night before the Battle of Waterloo. Georgy was a young, beautiful and immensely popular young lady at the time with many suitors. She and the Duke enjoyed a flirtatious early friendship, which blossomed into a…

Book cover of Vanity Fair

Katy Darby Author Of The Unpierced Heart

From my list on historical fiction with wanton & wilful women.

Who am I?

I’m a historical fiction author (one novel published by Penguin, plus several Sherlock Holmes stories with Belanger Books) – and I read it avidly too, although many of the Victorian novels I love were considered frighteningly modern in their day. I’m fascinated by the 19th century as both reader and writer because of the incredible changes (social and technological) it saw, and the resulting dramas and tensions that emerged. Literacy and literary culture exploded during Victoria’s reign, but it was also a time of astonishing contrast: poverty versus huge wealth, outward virtue versus secret vice, prejudice and injustice (especially regarding women’s rights) versus struggles for social progress… sound familiar?

Katy's book list on historical fiction with wanton & wilful women

Katy Darby Why did Katy love this book?

Famously, Thackeray subtitled his most celebrated work “a novel without a hero” – and frankly, that’s a major reason readers love it and it’s lasted so long. His anti-heroine Becky Sharp is even more notable for her wit, keen intelligence, and moral flexibility than for her personal attractions, and despite lacking both wealth and high birth, claws her way up the Georgian social ladder with scant regard for convention or other people’s feelings. Becky’s that rarity of (male-authored) nineteenth-century fiction: a female protagonist who’s fully-realised, three-dimensional, fascinating, and flawed – about as far from Dickens’s simpering tweens and caricatured crones as it’s possible to get. Through the Napoleonic wars, scandal, and ruin, we root for Becky even as we judge her: will she survive, even thrive? Read on!

By William Makepeace Thackeray,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Vanity Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair depicts the anarchic anti-heroine Beky Sharpe cutting a swathe through the eligible young men of Europe, set against a lucid backdrop of war and international chaos. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey.

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia Sedley, however, longs only for the caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour…