Life Made into Fiction

It seems that lately truth is stranger, or at least more intriguing, than fiction. An outstanding number of books seem to have real people and real events at their core. It seems to be a recipe for success as well. Here are some of my favorite books based on real-life people.

The Literary:lit bio2

Adeline by Norah Vincent looks at Virginia Woolf and touches on other members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Z by Therese Anne Fowler gives us a peak into the Jazz Age life of Zelda and her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut explores how E.M. Forster actually got A Passage to India written.

Under The Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan travels the world with Robert Louis Stevenson.

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood shows us Hemingway through the eyes of his many wives.

The Scientific:

The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec lets us into the mind and personal life of mathematician Kurt Godel.

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels brings us some crazy with the theramin and it’s creator.

other bio2And The Others:

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan takes us to 19th century Paris and the artist Degas.

The Confabulist by Steven Galloway not surprisingly shows that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Houdini.

Euphoria by Lily King is my personal favorite and gives a thinly veiled look at anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.

The Visitors by Sally Beauman takes us to Egypt and the discovery of King Tut!

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner brings Paris and fashion to life with Coco Chanel.




  1. I haven’t read any of these but I really want to read Euphoria. My favorite real person read lately was Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud about artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Seems like artists and writers make for good fiction!

  2. Yes, I’m finding truth stranger (and better!) than fiction at the moment. I’ve just started Euphoria and had no idea it was based on fact – that makes it better straight away! I haven’t read any of the others, but several are buried in my TBR pile somewhere. Glad to hear you enjoyed them!

  3. I love nonfiction and I think my enjoyment of fact based fiction is an extension of that. Especially if an author is clear about which parts of the book are factual, books like this can be a great chance to learn some interesting history while reading a really enjoyable story.

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