Young Adult Historical Novels: The Eighteenth Century

This page lists historical novels for young adult readers set in eighteenth-century Europe and North America.

American Revolution fife and drum players

The eighteenth century was a time of revolutions. The Scottish Jacobite Risings tried to free Scotland from English rule and put on the Scottish throne the grandson of their King James VII, Charles Edward Stuart, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie." Although they failed, two other revolutions succeeded.

In 1776, the American Colonies rebelled. And in 1789, after the creation of the independent United States, the French rebelled against their monarch and created a republic noted for bloodshed. In 1799, Napoleon came to power in France, bringing a welcome moderation to the French government but spreading warfare across Europe in the Napoleonic Wars.

It was an era of seapower, so many novels set in the eighteenth century are about pirates and warfare at sea. In America, colonists and Native Americans struggled to understand each other and get along peacefully. In a bitter irony, African men, women and children were enslaved and brought to America, where they longed for the freedom their captors enjoyed.

Abbreviations for Awards and Honors:

ALANCB = American Library Association Notable Children's Book
BBYA = An American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults" pick
CM = Carnegie Medal
CMH = Carnegie Medal Honor Book
IBBY = International Board on Books for Young People Honour Book
JFA = Josette Frank Award
NA = Newbery Award
NBA = National Book Award PHB = Printz Honor Book SOA = Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Jump to:

England, Scotland and the British Isles
France and the European Continent
Colonial North America
The American Revolution and After

England, Scotland and the British Isles

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Veronica Bennett, Cassandra’s Sister: Growing Up Jane Austen (2006), about the young Jane Austen, who would grow up to become the writer of novels that are still beloved today.

Elizabeth Bunce, A Curse Dark as Gold (2008), historical fantasy abut a young woman who tries to run her family's woolen mill after her father dies, but discovers there is a curse on it. BBYA.

Nicole Castroman, Blackhearts (2016), about a rich merchant's son who returns from a year at sea and falls in love with a maid in his father's household who longs to sail to her mother's birthplace in the Caribbean.

Linda Collison, Star-Crossed (2006), about an orphaned British girl who goes to sea and dresses as a boy to train as a surgeon's mate; #1 in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.

Linda Collison, Surgeon's Mate (2011), about a young woman who masquerades as a man to serve aboard ship as a surgeon's mate; #2 in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.

Janis Dawson, The White Cockade (1998), historical romance about a girl who goes to live with her grandfather in Scotland and feels attracted to both a cousin who is one of the Jacobite rebels and an English military officer.

Feona J. Hamilton, The Brewer's Boy (2008), about a ten-year-old foundling who lives and works at a London alehouse which comes under threat from a new brewery.

Karen Hesse, Stowaway (2000), about eleven-year-old Nicholas Young, who stowed away aboard Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour on its 1768 voyage.

Pirate Captain by Howard Pyle
L.A. Meyer, Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (2002), about an orphaned girl who disguises herself as a boy and goes to sea; #1 in the Bloody Jack series. BBYA.

L.A. Meyer, Curse Of The Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady (2004), about a young woman who has disguised herself as a boy to work on a ship, but is forced to attend a school for young ladies; #2 in the Bloody Jack series. BBYA.

L.A. Meyer, Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber (2005), about a girl who disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of a whaling ship to go in search of her sweetheart; #3 in the Bloody Jack series.

L.A. Meyer, In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber (2006), about a girl who is abducted along with her schoolmates and forced onto a ship bound for the Barbary Coast where they are to be sold into slavery; #4 in the Bloody Jack series.

L.A. Meyer, Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne Adventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady and Lily of the West (2007), about a girl who heads to America, tricks a man out of his Mississippi River flatboat and turns it into a showboat; #5 in the Bloody Jack series.

L.A. Meyer, My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War (2008), about a girl who becomes a spy for the British during the Napoleonic Wars; #6 in the Bloody Jack series.

L.A. Meyer, Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy (2009), about a girl kidnapped by British Naval Intelligence on the eve of her wedding and sent to find an underwater cache of Spanish gold; #7 in the Bloody Jack series.

L.A. Meyer, The Wake of the Lorelei Lee: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, on Her Way to Botany Bay (2010), about a girl sailor who is arrested and sent to a penal colony in Australia after she docks her new ship in London; #8 in the Bloody Jack series.

Nicola Morgan, The Highwayman's Footsteps (2007), about a young highwayman pursued across the moors by the redcoats.

Nicola Morgan, The Highwayman's Curse (2007), about two young highwaymen on the run in Scotland, where they are captured by smugglers.

Jade Parker, To Catch a Pirate (2007), historical romance about a seventeen-year-old girl traveling to the Caribbean with her father when their ship is attacked by pirates.

Kate Pennington, Charley Feather (2005), about a fourteen-year-old apprentice highwayman.

Kate Pennington, Nightingale's Song (2006), about a girl who sings in her father's tavern and overhears a dangerous plot.

Celia Rees, Pirates! (2003), about an English girl and who becomes a pirate along with her friend after fleeing her father's sugar plantation in the Caribbean. BBYA. Review

Rosemary Sutcliff, Flame-Coloured Taffeta (1986), about a twelve-year-old girl on the southern coast of England who discovers that a group of smugglers have brought a mysterious, wounded man ashore.

Kim Wilkins, Unclaimed Heart (2009), about a teen who stows away on her father's ship on a voyage to Africa in 1799 after learning her long-absent mother might be there, and meets an attractive pearl-diver who may hold the key to finding her mother.

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris, Prince Across the Water (2004), about two cousins who join the Scottish rebellion against English rule with an attempt to put Prince Charlie on the throne of Scotland. BBYA.

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris, The Rogues (2007), about a young Scot who teams up with a rogue in order to fight back after the laird evicts everyone in his village.

France, Italy and the European Continent

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Jump to Mysteries

Marie Antoinette Beth Levine Ain, The Revolution of Sabine (2009), about a sixteen-year-old Paris girl from an aristocratic family who, after meeting Benjamin Franklin in 1776, questions the marriage her parents have planned for her.

Pat Lowery Collins, Hidden Voices (2009), about three orphaned girls in Venice who study music with Antonio Vivaldi.

Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution (2010), about a modern teenage girl from New York whose father takes her to Paris, where she slips back in time after reading the diary of a French girl who was the companion to the doomed son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Christine Edwards, On Board the Boussole: The Diary of Julienne Fulbert (2002), about a French street urchin who, disguised as a boy, in 1785 inadvertently stows away on Count Lapérouse's ship as it embarks on its ill-fated voyage of exploration; published in Australia and not readily available in the U.S.

Patricia Elliott, The Pale Assassin (2009), about a girl in a convent school in Paris who has no idea that a revolutionary mob is about to change her life; #1 in the Pimpernelles series.

Patricia Elliott, The Traitor's Smile (2010), about a French girl who flees the Revolution to live with her cousin in England, but must face the prospect of returning to France for her brother's sake; #2 in the Pimpernelles series.

Sally Gardner, The Red Necklace (2007), about a fourteen-year-old gypsy boy working as a magician's assistant during the French Revolution. BBYA. Review

Sally Gardner, The Silver Blade (2008), about a boy who returns to France after the Revolution to help smuggle aristocrats out of the country, thinking his girlfriend is safe in England, only to discover she has been kidnapped by an evil count; sequel to The Red Necklace.

Clare Frances Holmes, The Golden Clasp (1998), historical romance about two young people in France of the eve of the Revolution.

Gladys Malvern, Patriot's Daughter (1960), about the daughter of the Marquis de Lafayette, whose family is arrested during the turmoil following the French Revolution after he returns from fighting in America's War of Independence.

Carolyn Meyer, The Bad Queen (2010); about Marie-Antoinette, the extravagant and doomed last queen of France; #6 in the Young Royals series.

Carolyn Meyer, In Mozart’s Shadow (2008), about Nannerl Mozart, sister of the musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a girl who also feels a passion for music.

Celia Rees, Sovay (2008), about a French girl raised in England after the French Revolution who sets out to find her missing father and brother.

Sharon Stewart, The Princess in the Tower (2005; previously published in 1998 as The Dark Tower), about the daughter of the King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Marie Thérèse Charlotte, who was imprisoned during the French Revolution.

Mysteries: The European Continent

Susanne Dunlap, The Musician’s Daughter (2010), about a girl in Vienna and her efforts to find out who killed her father, a famous violinist, and stole his valuable violin.

Colonial North America

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Joseph Bruchac, Winter People (2002), about a fourteen-year-old Abenaki Indian boy in Canada who must rescue his mother and sisters after they are kidnapped in a Rogers' Rangers attack in 1759.

Jane Louise Curry, Dark Shade (1998), about a sixteen-year-old girl of the present day who travels in time back to 1758 and finds herself in the middle of the French and Indian War.

Dale Day, The Sailor and the Carpenter (2012), about a fourteen-year-old English boy who in 1769 is shipwrecked on the California coast, where he meets the Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra; Christian message.

Walter D. Edmonds, The Matchlock Gun (1941), about a boy in Colonial New York who wonders if he will be capable of using his father's gun to protect his mother and sister in case of an Indian raid. Recommended for ages 9-12.

Diane Matcheck, The Sacrifice (1998), about a fifteen-year-old Plains Indian girl who decides to avenge her father's death.

Ann Rinaldi, The Color of Fire (2005), about a white indentured servant in New York who works alongside a black slave who is accused of treason and sentenced to death after a series of fires break out. Recommended for ages 9-12.

Ann Rinaldi, The Second Bend in the River (1997), about a girl from a family of Ohio pioneers who falls in love with the Indian leader Tecumseh.

Ann Rinaldi, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley (1996), about Phillis Wheatley, who was captured in Africa and sold into slavery and went on to become the first African American poet.

Anya Seton, Smouldering Fires (1975), about a twentieth-century high school girl with a phobia about fire who has vivid memories of a past life as an Acadian woman in eighteenth-century Connecticut.

The American Revolution and After

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American Revolution reenactment

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains (2008), about a girl slave sold to a master loyal to England during the American Revolution, who must decide whether to become a spy for the American rebels. BBYA, SOA. Review

Laurie Halse Anderson, Forge (2010), about an escaped slave who becomes a soldier with the American Patriots during the Revolutionary War; sequel to Chains.

Laurie Halse Anderson, Fever, 1793 (2000), about a sixteen-year-old girl trying to find her mother during an epidemic of yellow fever in 1793 Philadelphia. Recommended for grades 6-9. BBYA.

M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party (2006), about a boy who believes he is an African prince and is raised in an eccentric American scientific institution during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War; also appreciated by adult readers. NBA, BBYA, PHB. Review

M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves (2008), about a boy who escapes from slavery and joins the British Army during the American Revolution to take advantage of their promise of freedom; also appreciated by adult readers. BBYA.

Avi, The Fighting Ground (1994), about a thirteen-year-old boy during the American Revolutionary War. SOA. Recommended for ages 9-12.

Jean Rae Baxter, The Way Lies North (2007), about a fifteen-year-old girl from a family loyal to the British who is driven from her home by violence at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Gary L. Blackwood, Year of the Hangman (2002), alternative history about an English teenager exiled to the American Colonies after the American Revolution fails in 1777. BBYA.

James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, My Brother Sam is Dead (1985), about a teenager who must decide whether to remain loyal to the British like his father or to join the American rebels like his brother during the Revolutionary War. NA. Recommended for ages 12 and up. (Warning: there are spoilers in the Good Reads reviews.)

Terri A. DeMitchell, The Portsmouth Alarm (2013), about two teenage boys whose lives are changed by Paul Revere's warning in 1774.

Cameron Dokey, Katherine: Heart of Freedom (1997), about a sixteen-year-old Boston girl with a loyalist mother and a patriot father, who decides to hide a young patriot in her room to protect him from his loyalist pursuers; #1 in the Hearts and Dreams series.

Cameron Dokey, Charlotte: Heart of Hope (1997), about a girl sent from the Indiana frontier during the War of 1812 to live in Baltimore with her aunt, where she finds life is not much safer; #2 in the Hearts and Dreams series.

Cameron Dokey, Stephanie: Heart of Gold (1998), about a girl who stows away on a ship bound for California during the Gold Rush after her father sends the boy she loves there to keep them apart; #3 in the Hearts and Dreams series.

Cameron Dokey, Carrie: Heart of Courage (1998), about a timid sixteen-year-old who finds courage during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; #4 in the Hearts and Dreams series.

L.M. Elliott, Give Me Liberty (2006), about a thirteen-year-old boy, an indentured servant in Virginia, who meets a kind schoolmaster on the eve of the Revolutionary War.

Joan Elizabeth Goodman, Hope's Crossing (1998), about a thirteen-year-old girl kidnapped from her father's farm by British soldiers hoping for ransom money during the Revolutionary War.

Karen Hawkins, Catherine and the Pirate (2002), historical romance about a seventeen-year-old Boston girl who decides to deliver the ransom herself after her brother is kidnapped.

Lou Kassem, The Innkeeper's Daughter (1996), about a girl who works in her father's inn, where she overhears a potentially dangerous secret.

Sheila Soloman Klass, Soldier’s Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson (2009), about Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a boy in order to fight in the Continental Army for American freedom.

William Lavender, Just Jane (2002), about an English earl's orphaned daughter who arrives in America in 1776 as the Revolutionary War begins, dividing her family's loyalties.

Elizabeth Massie, 1776: Son of Liberty (2000), about a sixteen-year-old Maryland boy, a free black, who wonders whether the American Revolution will be of any help to his friends who are slaves.

Anna Myers, Spy (2008), about a boy torn between keeping a deathbed promise to his loyalist father never to join the American rebels and thinking for himself, as his schoolteacher Nathan Hale urges him to do.

Gary Paulsen, Woods Runner (2010), about a thirteen-year-old boy who returns from hunting meat for his family to find their settlement burned, their neighbors dead, and his parents taken prisoner by the British.

Ann Rinaldi, Or Give Me Death (2003), about the daughter of the American rebel Patrick Henry and the family secrets she knows.

Ann Rinaldi, Taking Liberty (2002), about a girl who is a house servant - a slave - for George and Martha Washington and begins to question her life.

Ann Rinaldi, Cast Two Shadows (1998), about a fourteen-year-old girl in South Carolina and her experiences during the American Revolution.

Ann Rinaldi, The Secret of Sarah Revere (1995), about the thirteen-year-old daughter of hero Paul Revere and the secret she knows that her father's new wife does not.

Ann Rinaldi, Finishing Becca (1994), about a Philadelphia girl whose path crosses fatefully with that of Benedict Arnold.

Ann Rinaldi, The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (1993), about a servant girl who must choose between her loyalty to her employers, the John Adams family, and her friendship with a British soldier.

Ann Rinaldi, A Ride into Morning (1991), about a girl struggling to care for her ailing mother while maintaining the family farm, who is faced with a risky choice when a soldier demands her horse in exchange for not turning her brother in to the authorities for rum-running.

Ann Rinaldi, Time Enough for Drums (1986), about a sixteen-year-old girl in Trenton, New Jersey, whose family supports the American patriots, but whose attractive tutor is a loyalist.

Ann Rinaldi, A Stitch in Time (1994), about a girl who decides to make a quilt to help keep her family together as they begin to take separate paths in life; #1 in the Quilt trilogy.

Ann Rinaldi, Broken Days (1995), about a girl who wants to stop a half-Shawnee girl from taking a place in her grandfather's affections; #2 in the Quilt trilogy.

Ann Rinaldi, The Blue Door (1999), about a girl who travels north to work in her great-grandfather's textile mill and heal generations of family wounds; #3 in the Quilt trilogy.

Ann Rinaldi, The Family Greene (2010), about a girl who learns that her mother, once a beautiful woman who lifted soldiers' spirits at Valley Forge, may have done more than just flirt.

Betsy Sterman, Saratoga Secret (1998), about a sixteen-year-old farm girl given the responsibility of delivering a message to warn the Continental army that the British are planning an attack, as she tries to make up her mind which of two boys to give her heart to.

Betsy Urban, Waiting for Deliverance (2000), about a fourteen-year-old indentured servant who questions her feelings for an attractive Indian, her master's adoptive brother.

Allan Wolf, New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery (2004), about fourteen members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and their westward journey of exploration across the American Continent. BBYA.

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