Ten Novels With Characters Based on Real People

true stories

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is focused on books with characters who __. I’m filling in that blank with characters based on real people, so you get a dose of historical fiction…the good kind.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

San Francisco, smallpox, burlesque, frog catching and an unsolved murder tumble together in this true tale.

What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins

The beautifully written true story of Laura Bridgman, a deaf-blind woman who captured the nation’s attention years before Helen Keller.

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

Following the death of their only son, a husband and wife act quietly to resist Nazi control in WWII Berlin.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Iceland’s dark, cold atmosphere runs deep in this true story of a woman accused of murder in 1829.

Euphoria by Lily King

Loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead, King’s novel examines the passions of three anthropologists.

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Not just one, but a collection of true stories based on the lives of real, fascinating women.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The story of a young boy who joins John Brown’s abolitionist raid, told in a way you’ve never heard before.

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

Written in first person plural, the collective stories of the women behind the atomic bomb.

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

A novel that follows the imagined life of the woman shown in Dorthea Lange’s infamous Migrant Mother photograph.

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

The story of Hemingway’s wives, told from their perspectives in four consecutive parts.


What are your favorite novels with characters based on real people?