The most recommended books on Oliver Cromwell

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27 authors created a book list connected to Oliver Cromwell, and here are their favorite Oliver Cromwell books.
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What type of Oliver Cromwell book?


Book cover of Wolf Hall

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Yes, I know this is a novel, but Mantel’s historical research is impeccable and no one has done more to bring to light the shadowy, intrigue-filled court of Henry VIII. Mantel explores the intersection of political power and personal ambition as she traces the career of Thomas Cromwell, a rags-to-riches courtier.

I could almost taste the food, smell the decay, and touch the damp walls of the buildings. She took me deep into the consciousness of the unlikeable yet sympathetic and lonely main character, as he serves his monarch and defeats his enemies.

The drama is gripping.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Wolf Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the the Orange Prize Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

`Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good' Daily Mail

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with…

Book cover of Mistress Cromwell

Judith Arnopp Author Of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years

From my list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading Historical Fiction as a youngster led me to study history at university – so the Tudors have been part of my life for about forty years now. After graduating with a Master’s degree, my career choice was easy. Of my thirteen novels, ten are Tudor, covering among others, the lives of Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Mary Tudor, and King Henry VIII himself. It isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ to live in such close proximity to the Tudors, but I would be hard pushed to write in a modern setting. Give me an ill-lit chamber, a royal banquet, or even a grisly beheading and I am perfectly at home.

Judith's book list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court

Judith Arnopp Why did Judith love this book?

Another lesser-known figure, Elizabeth is the wife of Thomas Cromwell. She has very little mention in the historical record but the author draws on what we do know of her husband, Thomas. Elizabeth Cromwell’s character is convincing and likable. I particularly enjoyed glimpsing another side of Thomas Cromwell, a more human side and I loved the descriptions of their imagined daily life together. The author doesn’t over describe but the sights, sounds, and smells of the city are touched on just enough to provide a sense of place. It was also refreshing to see a woman involved in business in her own right, the cloth trade is described with enough detail to engage the reader but never becomes tedious.

By Carol McGrath,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mistress Cromwell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of my favourite Tudor set books . . . A wonderfully vivid read." Nicola Cornick

Young widow Elizabeth Williams is determined to make a success of the business she inherited from her merchant father. But an independent woman draws the wrong kind of attention, and Elizabeth soon realises she has enemies - enemies who know the dark truth about her dead husband.

Happiness arrives when Elizabeth meets rapidly rising lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage begins in mutual love and respect - but it isn't easy being the wife of an ambitious courtier in Henry VIII's London. The city is…

Book cover of The Puritan Princess

Sara Read Author Of The Gossips' Choice

From my list on biofiction of historical women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a literary historian who works on the history of women’s reproductive bodies in the early modern era. I am also a debut novelist who has used my many years of researching the seventeenth century to bring to life the story of a seventeenth-century midwife. My own novel is not a bio fiction in the strictest sense of the term (novels with a named protagonist who was a historical figure) but it is based on the published works of two contemporary midwives, Jane Sharp (fl. 1671) and Sarah Stone who worked in the early part of the eighteenth century. I love reading works where other authors have brought to life figures I both research and teach.

Sara's book list on biofiction of historical women

Sara Read Why did Sara love this book?

This is the chance to read about a woman on the side of Cromwell and Parliament during the English civil wars. It imagines the life of Oliver Cromwell’s youngest daughter, Frances, later Lady Rich and Lady Russell (1638–1720). It describes the reign of Cromwell, life in the court of the protector, and the end of the commonwealth following her father’s death. The story is told by Frances herself and features a twist about the real fate of Cromwell’s corpse at the end.

By Miranda Malins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Power, passion and a devastating fight for the crown - discover the gripping story of Oliver Cromwell's youngest daughter. Perfect for fans of Anne O'Brien, Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory

'A powerful and superbly researched historical novel' Andrew Taylor, author of The Last Protector

1657. The youngest daughter of Oliver Cromwell, eighteen-year-old Frances is finding her place at England's new centre of power.

Following the turmoil of Civil War, a fragile sense of stability has returned to the country. Her father has risen to the unprecedented position of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, and Frances has found herself transported from…

Book cover of The Last Protector

Alec Marsh Author Of Rule Britannia

From my list on historical thrillers for history lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist and writer by profession, one who has a passion for history and historical fiction. Eventually these things came together when I came up with the idea for Drabble and Harris and wrote my first historical thriller – Rule Britannia. Before going into journalism I studied history at university, a bedrock that continues to support and feed my writing. I’ve also written broadly on various historical topics throughout my career, including for National Geographic. In my protagonists, Drabble and Harris, I have the perfect vehicle to travel back in time to the recent past and revisit it through modern eyes – and more than that, to challenge our perceptions of it.

Alec's book list on historical thrillers for history lovers

Alec Marsh Why did Alec love this book?

Set in the aftermath of the English Civil War; this is the fourth in Andrew Taylor’s bestselling series involving a government agent named James Marwood and his friend, Cat Lovett, who happens to be Oliver Cromwell’s daughter. In The Last Protector 1668 and Marwood and Lovett are on the trail of a mystery that goes back to the days of the republic, one quite literally hidden away in the bowels of the past, but also one which involves a very credible danger to both them individually and society at large. It’s gripping and immersive, and offers delicious personal and political jeopardy right up to the end.

By Andrew Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett. Over 1 Million Andrew Taylor Novels Sold!

A dangerous secret lies beneath Whitehall Palace...

Brother against brother. Father against son. Friends turned into enemies. No one in England wants a return to the bloody days of the Civil War. But Oliver Cromwell's son, Richard, has abandoned his exile and slipped back into England. The consequences could be catastrophic.

James Marwood, a traitor's son turned government agent, is tasked with uncovering Cromwell's motives. But…

Book cover of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

Norbert Schmitt Author Of Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

From Norbert's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Language specialist International traveler Musician Private pilot

Norbert's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Norbert Schmitt Why did Norbert love this book?

Although my professional interest is language and how to use it well, one of my hobbies is reading about history. 

Most of the history we learn in school consists of short snapshots about ‘important people’ and main events, but this misses so much of the story and is often misleading. This book shows that many of the ‘truths’ and ‘facts’ about American history that are taught in school are largely myths.

For example, Woodrow Wilson is usually portrayed as a hero who attempted to establish the League of Nations. While this is true, he also established racial segregation in the federal government and launched invasions into Latin American countries.

Only by providing a more nuanced version of history in our textbooks (including the bad as well as the good), can our children be taught to think critically about the past to better inform the future.

By James W. Loewen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lies My Teacher Told Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its first publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has become one of the most important - and successful - history books of our time. Having sold over two million copies, the book also won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and was heralded on the front page of the New York Times in the summer of 2006. For this new edition, Loewen has added a new introduction that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems.

Book cover of Varney the Vampire

Wade Walker Author Of Bite of the Wolf

From my list on the Gothic-espionage connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer based in Wisconsin. I write in a genre that exists much like its subjects: lurking in the shadows. It's something I call Gothic Espionage, which is the intersection of the Gothic and Espionage/Spy genres. My first novel, Bite of the Wolf, was the first synthesis of these two worlds, and continues with the follow up, slated for release in September, Operation Frankenstein. Appropriately enough, spies are often referred to as “spooks,” and these selections will highlight both the spooky and the spooks of Gothic Espionage, and I’ll highlight why both horror and spy novels can both be described as “thrillers.”

Wade's book list on the Gothic-espionage connection

Wade Walker Why did Wade love this book?

A precursor to Dracula, and largely forgotten today in the mainstream, the globe-hopping adventures of Varney bring to mind many spy adventure tales.

In this novel, one of the original “penny dreadfuls” the episodic tone (due to its original publication as a continuing weekly serial from 1845-1847), contributes to the espionage feel, especially as Varney takes on a cover as “Baron Stolmuyer Saltsburgh” in order to further his activities.

Also notable is, among the other vampiric Gothic traits displayed by Varney, he is also able to be revived by moonlight, a trope which is now more attributed to werewolves.

By James Malcolm Rymer, Thomas Peckett Prest,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Varney the Vampire (1847) is a penny dreadful novel by British writers James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest. Originally serialized in cheap volumes, the novel introduced some of the most recognizable tropes of vampire fiction still used today, including the depiction of fangs and the use of a Gothic setting. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Varney the Vampire is a story of tragedy, damnation, and revenge that pioneered many of the themes common to horror and pulp fiction today. Sir Francis Varney was condemned to an eternity of vampiric life following his actions during the reign of Oliver Cromwell.…

Book cover of The Bloodless Boy

Robert Craven Author Of A Kind of Drowning

From Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Humourous Curious Adaptable Traveller Learner

Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Robert Craven Why did Robert love this book?

Rich in historical detail – The Bloodless Boy is simply one of the best novels I have ever read. The growing interest in science as well religion and its internal conflicts during Charles II's reign are the backdrop to a series of murders involving young boys.

The clash of reason, faith, power, and enlightenment drive the investigation and London is realised perfectly by Lloyd's prose.

It's the written version of Joseph Wright of Derby, "A Philosopher giving that Lecture on the Orrery" (from 1766).

Pretty close to perfect.

By Robert J. Lloyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best New Historical Novel of 2021

"Potent... fast-paced..." - The New York Times Book Review

"Wonderfully imagined and wonderfully written . . . Superb!" -- Lee Child

Part Wolf Hall, part The Name of the Rose, a riveting new literary thriller set in Restoration London, with a cast of real historic figures, set against the actual historic events and intrigues of the returned king and his court …

The City of London, 1678. New Year’s Day. Twelve years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Eighteen since the fall of Oliver Cromwell and…

Book cover of The Seeker

Douglas Watt Author Of The Unnatural Death of a Jacobite

From my list on crime which evoke an historical period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction which brings the past to life and allows us to experience other historical periods. For me, historical crime fiction combines this with dynamic plots and interesting characters. My love of history was first kindled by the books of John Prebble which introduced me to the fascinating world of 17th-century Scotland. I went on to study Scottish History at university and research a PhD in the subject. I have gone on to write a history of the Darien Disaster, The Price of Scotland, and a series of historical crime novels set in the late 17th century featuring investigative advocate John MacKenzie and his sidekick Davie Scougall. 

Douglas' book list on crime which evoke an historical period

Douglas Watt Why did Douglas love this book?

The Seeker takes us through the streets of Cromwellian London in the 1650s, a period rarely considered by historical crime novelists, but one of paranoia as Cromwell’s regime struggles to crush the enemies seeking to overthrow it. The novel introduces the character of Captain Damian Seeker, Cromwell’s mysterious agent who is a force to be reckoned with.

By S.G. MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2015 CWA Endeavour Dagger for Historical Fiction

London, 1654. Oliver Cromwell is at the height of his power and has declared himself Lord Protector. Yet he has many enemies, at home and abroad.

London is a complex web of spies and merchants, priests and soldiers, exiles and assassins. One of the web's most fearsome spiders is Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector. No one knows where Seeker comes from, who his family is, or even his real name. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that…

Book cover of The Mirror & the Light

Mark Stibbe Author Of House of Dreams

From Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Booklover Ghostwriter Writing coach YouTuber Labrador lover

Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Mark Stibbe Why did Mark love this book?

I love Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the Tudor Age, this book being the third. I love the way she sheds light on the Tudor Age by focusing on one person, Thomas Cromwell. This third novel draws his story to a tragic conclusion in prose that I found exquisite.

In my opinion, Hilary Mantel’s trilogy is the finest fiction of our times. As a lover of both fine writing and Tudor history, I found this third book, like the previous two, impossible to put down. It not only tells a compelling story; it also sets the gold standard for anyone who wants to produce fine writing in the future.

Her recent death is a terrible loss to the literary world.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mirror & the Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times bestselling sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall trilogy.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

'Mantel has taken us to the dark heart of history...and what a show' The Times

'If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?'

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The…

Book cover of Cromwell

Nancy Blanton Author Of When Starlings Fly as One

From my list on Ireland in the 17th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nancy Blanton is an American author of Irish descent. She’s written three award-winning Irish historical novels and has a fourth underway. A former journalist, her focus on the 17th century derives from a history lesson about Oliver Cromwell, weariness of Tudor stories, decades of enlightening research, and a little help from supportive friends in County Cork.

Nancy's book list on Ireland in the 17th century

Nancy Blanton Why did Nancy love this book?

For those who like biographies, this story of Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658) follows him from young man to gentleman farmer, reluctant politician, military leader, regicide, and Lord Protector of England. To me, Cromwell will always be the cold destroyer who led his most brutal and devastating army across Ireland after England’s civil war. But, there are many differing opinions. This interesting read presents all sides of the man, so you can be the judge. 

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Cromwell, award-winning biographer Antonia Fraser tells of one of England's most celebrated and controversial figures, often misunderstood and demonized as a puritanical zealot. Oliver Cromwell rose from humble beginnings to spearhead the rebellion against King Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649, and led his soldiers into the last battle against the Royalists and King Charles II at Worcester, ending the civil war in 1651. Fraser shows how England's prestige and prosperity grew under Cromwell, reversing the decline it had suffered since Queen Elizabeth I's death.