12 Best Authors like William Boyd for Readers to Enjoy

Find award-winning writers that dig into history, drama, and slice-of-life stories with authors like William Boyd.

The Scottish author William Boyd’s works span everything from James Bond (courtesy of Ian Fleming’s estate request) to screenplays and passionate historical fiction. He has won awards for his wide variety of work, including Any Human Heart and An Ice-Cream War. These books examined the pathos of men and women against the backdrop of a changing world, such as colonial East Africa in World War 1.

While it’s difficult to find writers with such an impressive resume, if you’re a fan of Boyd’s works, then there are several other authors we can recommend trying. These writers are also famous for their perceptive work, historical dramas, and award-winning pros. 

Best Authors like William Boyd Ranked

1. Saul Bellow, 1915 – 2005

Saul Bellow
Black and white portrait of Saul Bellow

Bellow was a renowned American novelist and winner of both a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for Literature, among other honors. He is remembered as the only writer to win three National Book Awards for Fiction titles. 

Bellow was born in Quebec in 1915, and, as a child, his family moved to Chicago, a city that inspired several of his works. He studied anthropology and sociology at the University of Chicago (after shunning the English department, which he believed to be antisemitic). He completed his first novel while serving as a merchant marine during WWII. Eventually, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to move to Paris and write full-time – although he later returned to Chicago. 

Bellow’s books include seminal titles such as The Adventures of Augie MarchHerzog, and Henderson the Rain King. There needs to be a particularly important starting place for his works, so readers can choose which book seems the most appealing. 

“Death is going to take the boundaries away from us, that we should no more be persons. That’s what death is about. When that is what life also wants to be about, how can you feel except rebellious?”

Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
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The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Classics)
  • Bellow, Saul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 10/03/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

2. John Banville, 1945 – 

John Banville
Close-up shot of writer John Banville

Suppose you’re a fan of award-winning Scottish or Irish novelists. In that case, you’ve already heard of Banville, an Irish writer with impressive accomplishments. Banville is famous for his exploratory, vivid fiction that explores various themes and emotions. 

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, the youngest of three siblings who are also writers. He did not famously attend college but worked as a travel clerk after high school. He traveled to Greece and Italy before eventually settling into an editor position at The Irish Press and The Irish Times.

Readers can explore many different stories in Banville’s works, from the short novel The Sea, which won the Booker Prize in 2005, to his “Frames” or “Revolutions” trilogies. It’s probably a good idea to avoid his fifth novel, Nightspawn, which he has disowned as pretentious and “crotchety.” 

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”

John Banville, The Sea
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The Sea
  • Banville, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 195 Pages - 08/15/2006 (Publication Date) - Vintage International (Publisher)

3. Elizabeth Alexander, 1962 –

Elizabeth Alexander
Photo of Elizabeth Alexander speaking at an event

Elizabeth Alexander is considered one of the best writers and experts on African-American literature. Her work, spanning poems, essays, short stories, and plays, has been widely published and won awards, including the Quantrell Award. She also had the honor of composing a poem for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. 

Alexander was born in Harlem, NYC, and grew up in Washington, D.C. Her family was deeply involved in politics. She eventually studied at Yale and Boston University before earning her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. After briefly working as a reporter, she turned her attention to poetry and writing and soon began to win various awards. She now teaches at Yale and is active in several organizations, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Readers will find Alexander’s works readily available, and fans of poetry may want to start with collections like Body of Life or American Sublime (which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist). Those curious about her other work can examine her critical writings in publications ranging from The Paris Review to The Washington Post.

“Loss is not felt in the absence of love”

Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World
Body of Life: Poems
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Alexander, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 85 Pages - 01/13/1997 (Publication Date) - Tia Chucha Press (Publisher)

4. Rosemary Sutcliff, 1920 – 1992

Suppose one of your favorite parts of Boyd’s writings is the deep exploration of historical settings. In that case, you may be interested in other famed historical fiction. Sutcliff is a British writer known for her excellent writing that explores other places and eras. While she is considered primarily a children’s author, her work has been appreciated by readers of all ages and has won awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Phoenix Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. 

As a child in the 1920s, Sutcliff contracted Still’s Disease, eventually leading to her using a wheelchair for much of her life. However, her education was intermittent, and she didn’t fully learn to read until age 9. Her writing career began in 1950 with The Chronicles of Robin Hood

Sutcliff’s most famous works include The Lantern Bearers and The Mark of the Horse Lord. Since her writing is largely kid-friendly, you can enjoy these books with your youngsters and let the adventure carry you away. 

“So Aquila took his father’s service upon him. It wasn’t as good as love; it wasn’t as good as hate; but it was something to put into the emptiness within him.”

Rosemary Sutcliff, The Lantern Bearers
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The Lantern Bearers (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 3)
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 11/09/2010 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

5. Martin Gayford, 1952 – 

History students will appreciate Gayford’s in-depth exploration of famous historical figures, including Michelangelo and Van Gogh, where he brings these well-known figures and their time periods to life. After studying philosophy at Cambridge and art history at London University, Gayford worked as an art critic for various publications, including Spectator and Bloomberg News.

His books on art history, such as The Yellow House, which covers a key period of Van Gogh’s life, are widely acclaimed and published in multiple languages. Lovers of historical art and important historical events will find plenty to appreciate in Gayford’s work and lots of inspiration for their writing in similar fields.

“Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still. The image is passing through you in a physiological way, into your brain, into your memory – where it stays – it’s transmitted by your hands.”

Martin Gayford, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney
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The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence
  • Gayford, Martin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 04/24/2008 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

6. Gary D. Schmidt, 1957 – 

Gary D. Schmidt
Photo of Gary D. Schmidt smiling

Schmidt is an American writer specializing in young adult and coming-of-age stories, for which he has won a number of awards, including Newberry Honors. Born in New York in 1957, Schmidt has been open about his struggles in school and the difficulties caused by low expectations. However, he discovered a love of reading.

Eventually, he attended Gordon College and the University of Illinois before ultimately earning his Ph.D. in medieval literature. He now works as an English professor at Calvin College. In the 1990s, Schmidt was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. His experiences allowed him to relate with other patients and inspired him to write and write, especially with children and young adults in mind. Those who want to start with Schmidt’s books should try The Wednesday Wars, followed by sequels, including Okay for Now and Just Like That

“Vengeance is sweet. Vengeance taken when the vengee isn’t sure who the venger is, is sweeter still.”

Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars
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The Wednesday Wars: A Newbery Honor Award Winner
  • Schmidt, Gary D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 05/18/2009 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

7. Pierre Lemaitre, 1951 – 

Pierre Lemaitre
Close-up of author Pierre Lemaitre

If you like suspense and action and enjoy reading books by authors like Boyd, consider Lemaitre, a French novelist, and screenwriter. His claim to fame is a series of crime novels starring Commandant Camille Verhœven. He has also won awards such as the Prix Goncourt and the CWA International Dagger for a best-translated crime novel. 

Speaking of translations, English readers can start with popular titles like Alex if they want to pick up a new crime series. However, those looking for works similar to Boyd’s may want to turn to The Great Swindle, a book that takes place during WWI.

“After grief, all that remains is barren.”

Pierre Lemaitre, Alex
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The Great Swindle
  • Lemaitre, Pierre (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 09/06/2016 (Publication Date) - MacLehose Press (Publisher)

8. Shion Miura, 1976 – 

Miura is a notable Japanese author who has won several awards for her books, including the Booksellers Award and the Naoki Prize in 2006, which she won in her 20s, a surprisingly young age, to qualify for such an honor. 

Miura found her love of reading and writing at a very early age growing up in a scholar’s home before attending Waseda University. A literary agent encouraged her to write in her senior year, and she published her first work of fiction soon after graduation. 

Miura’s works are notable for how different they all are. Readers should look for translations depending on the sort of story they want. The Handymen in Mahoro Town won her the Naoki. At the same time, The Kogure Apartments is a much-praised story of people living together in a rundown apartment house, and The Great Passage is about a writer putting together a dictionary. 

“Words and the human heart that creates them are absolutely free, with no connection to the powers that be.”

Shion Miura, The Great Passage
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The Great Passage
  • Miura, Shion (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 222 Pages - 06/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Amazon Crossing (Publisher)

9. Paul Torday, 1946 – 2013

If you’re looking for a different twist on award-winning British writing, look at Torday’s creations and pick one up to try something new. He has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing and the Waverton Good Read Award. 

Torday was born in 1946 in Croxdale and eventually attended Pembroke College at Oxford. However, after graduation, he focused on business and only picked up writing for a few years. His first novel was published at age 59, but his output quickly rose afterward until he died in 2013.

Torday is an excellent choice for readers who want to experience humor and honest takes on life. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is one of his most decorated works, but readers may also like to explore other titles like More Than You Can Say and The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers

“I taught you to take the first step: to learn to believe in belief. And one day you will take the second step and find what is it you believe in.”

Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
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Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
  • Torday, Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 04/21/2008 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

10. Deborah Moggach, 1948 –

Deborah Moggach
Photo of Deborah Moggach outside in blue

Moggach is a well-known English novelist and screenwriter with various titles exploring different facets of life. While she has won awards for her screenwriting, particularly her adaptions of novels to the screen, readers will want to start with her unique novels. 

Born to writer parents, Moggach attended the University of Bristol and found employment at the Oxford University Press. She also spent time living in the United States and Pakistan, and her world experience shows up frequently across her novels, which often feature characters that move around the world. 

With around 19 novels published, readers have plenty of options when reading Moggach. While some of her work is slightly darker or cynical, she specializes in many popular comedic novels about family life, marriage, and relationships. Books like These Foolish Things and Tulip Fever are good places to start. 

“I’m like a mussel, closed in my shell. It’s only you who can open me.”

Deborah Moggach, Tulip Fever
These Foolish Things
  • Hardcover Book
  • Moggach, Deborah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 281 Pages - 02/11/2024 (Publication Date) - Chatto & Windus (Publisher)

11. John Lanchester, 1962 –

John Lanchester
Photo of John Lanchester at a conference

The list continues with another British novelist, John Lanchester, who is known for his work in both fiction and journalism. In addition to appearing in The Guardian, New Yorker, and The Daily Telegraph, Lanchester has won the Whitebread Book Award for his first novel and Hawthornden Prize. 

While Lanchester’s nonfiction works like Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay offer interesting information. Fiction readers should turn to his novels, where they’ll find several fascinating and very different stories. Fragrant Harbor, set in 1980s Hong Kong, where a young English journalist meets colorful characters, might be one of the best picks for Boyd fans. At the same time, other notable works include Family Romance and Capital.

“Longevity can be a form of spite. I am an old man myself now, and I recognise the symptoms.”

John Lanchester, Fragrant Harbor
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Fragrant Harbor
  • Lanchester, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 342 Pages - 08/26/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

12. Louise Doughty, 1963 –

Louise Doughty
Photo of Louise Doughty at a writer’s festival

English author Doughty has written nine novels, nonfiction works, radio plays, and various cultural critiques for both newspapers and magazines, including a weekly column for The Daily Telegraph. Her novels have become bestsellers worldwide, and many have been adapted into television series that received similar acclaim. She’s been in the running for the Costa Book Award and the Orange Prize, among other notable nominations. 

With so much of her work appearing on TV, readers can probably find a streaming version of one of her novels to get a general idea of her style or take a break from the written word. However, for the long term, you can start with books like Apple Tree Yard (one of her most famous), Black Water, or Platform Seven.

“We discovered that safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement but you can never buy them back.”

Louise Doughty, Apple Tree Yard
Apple Tree Yard
  • Hardcover Book
  • Doughty, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 01/14/2014 (Publication Date) - Sarah Crichton Books (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best Czech authors!

Author

  • Tyler has been published on Huffington Post and Motely Fool. His article and blogs experience includes working for The Content Standard, Mad Mobile, Digital Landing, and Apass Education, among many others.