Mariella Frostrup celebrates a renaissance in historical fiction writing with authors Philippa Gregory, Sarah Dunant and Adrian Goldsworthy.
In its heyday in the 1950s and 60s writers such as Anya Seton, Georgette Heyer, Margaret Irwin and Jean Plaidy achieved commercial success - Jean Plaidy sold a 100 million books in her lifetime - but little literary acclaim.
So why is the genre enjoying a re-birth, and how do novels from Tudor tyrants to the 1930s Depression, from Renaissance Italy to the Napoleonic wars, speak to us now?
The programme also includes an interview with Hilary Mantel, author of Booker prize winning novel "Wolf Hall" about the Tudor politician Thomas Cromwell.
Producer: Hilary Dunn.