10 essential books for British period drama series fans to read

It’s hard waiting for your favourite TV show to return – especially with how long us Brits take between seasons!

So we’ve selected 10 must-read books for fans of British period drama series:


‘The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times’ by Jennifer Worth

The basis for the BBC’s Call the Midwife series, the first book in Jennifer Worth’s Midwife trilogy recounting her work as a district nurse and midwife in London’s East End slums during the 1950s was originally published in 2002.


‘Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787’ by Winston Graham

Adapted twice by the BBC for television, Winston Graham began his Poldark novels in 1945, telling the story of a British Army officer who returns home to Cornwall following the American War of Independence in the late 18th Century.

The series of 12 historical novels starts with the simply-titled Ross Poldark.


‘Jambusters’ by Julie Summers

Published in 2013, Julie Summers’ book takes us behind the scenes of life in the Women’s Institute on the Home Front during the Second World War.

Featuring archive material and interviews with many WI members, Jambusters was adapted by ITV for the series Home Fires.


‘My Family and Other Animals’ by Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals, the first of conservationist Gerald Durrell’s three books about his nature-loving childhood in Corfu, was published in 1956. Durrell followed the book with Birds, Beasts and Relatives in 1969 and The Garden of the Gods in 1978.

The Corfu Trilogy, as its known, has been loosely adapted by ITV as The Durrells in Corfu since 2016.


‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon’s series of historical time travel novels about a time-traveling 20th-century British nurse who finds love with a Highland warrior in 18th-century Scotland has spawned the hugely successful TV series Outlander.

The first book was published in 1991 and the ninth instalment, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, is expected in 2019.


‘Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey’ by Sarah Warwick

Featuring accounts from actual masters and servants, this beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a guided tour of a single day in an upper-crust English home during the Edwardian era of Downton Abbey.


‘Father Brown: The Essential Tales’ by G. K. Chesterton

Created by English novelist G. K. Chesterton, the character of Father Brown featured in 53 short stories between 1910 and 1936.

The fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur detective has been played by Harry Potter star Mark Williams in BBC One’s popular daytime drama series since 2013.


‘The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park’ by Sinclair McKay

The central site for British codebreakers during World War II, Bletchley Park in the Buckinghamshire countryside housed Britain’s most brilliant mathematical brains.

A compendium of memories from people who were once its habitants, this book is fascinating for fans of The Imitation Game and ITV’s The Bletchley Circle.


‘The Victoria Letters’ by Helen Rappaport

An official companion to ITV’s drama series Victoria, this book showcases the private letters and diary entries of the young Queen Victoria and features an introduction by the show’s creator, Daisy Goodwin.


‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ by James Runcie

The first of six books in British author James Runcie’s The Grantchester Mysteries series, this book was published in 2012 and features half a dozen short standalone stories.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death introduces readers to the titular clergyman and detective, as played by James Norton in ITV’s crime drama since 2014.