A History of Romance Novels
Romance novels are among the most popular forms of literature today. Most of the time, modern love stories are written with female sensibilities in mind, specifically from a woman’s point of view. The industry of romantic books is largely a female-driven medium, focusing on the various areas in life women deem important.
Can you believe that short love story book you just finished reading has a long and celebrated history? The romance books that fill your shelves have been around for centuries.
Where Did It All Began?
Marking its birth during the English Renaissance, women’s fiction was authored by a masculine pen and guided by the male point of view on the subject matter that is purely feminine. As a result, patriarchal ideas have been reinforced by way of literature and promoted the female sphere during the period that saw the rise of women’s literacy. However, the appearance of the Spanish novel The Mirror of Knighthood’s translation done by Margaret Tyler and Urania by Mary Wroth have become notable exceptions to this theory.
The commercial success of Renaissance romances can be attributed to the emergence of a larger number of female readers. Most of the Jacobean and Elizabethan romance authors credited their fame and commercial success to the gentlewomen readers or those who belong to the middle ranks in society, reassuring their faithful fans of their wholehearted dedication.
A Short List of the Best Romance Novels of All Time
The genre of romance books has surely seen a rich history. However, passion, devotion, relationships, and love are said to be easily experienced but a bit challenging to express in written words. Through the years, however, there are good romance books that have managed to capture the hearts of readers from all walks of life, earning the title of being the best romance novels of all time.
- Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
This romance novel has sold more than 120 million copies, with numerous imitations and adaptations, proving that this has stood even the harshest test of time.
- Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Largely ignored and initially criticized for its unsuitable depiction of blind love, this is a true romance classic that is considered as one of the best-known love stories that English literature has ever produced.
- Emily Brontë’s Jane Eyre
Widely renowned for tackling issues of sexuality, feminism, religion and class in first person narrative, it is a popular romance book that bears a rebellious streak disrupting the status quo of the 19th century.
- Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Hailed by Times Magazine as the greatest romance novel that was ever written, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a real masterpiece.
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
Taking the second spot amongst the best romance novels in America, the romantic classic explores the life of Scarlett O’Hara. It is also the very story that earned the author her Pulitzer Price in the year 1937.
It would be impossible to list everyone’s favorite romance book of all time, but the above list is a good place to start developing your taste for romantic literature.