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The Napoleonic Wars were a defining event of the early 19th century, and inspired many works of fiction, from then until the present day.

  • Leo Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace recounts Napoleon's wars between 1805 and 1812 (especially the disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia and subsequent retreat) from a Russian perspective.
  • Stendhal's novel The Charterhouse of Parma opens with a ground-level recounting of the Battle of Waterloo and the subsequent chaotic retreat of French forces.
  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo takes place against the backdrop of the Napoleonic War and subsequent decades, and in its unabridged form contains an epic telling of the Battle of Waterloo.
  • Adieu is a novella by Honoré de Balzac in which can be found a short description of the French retreat from Russia, particularly the battle of Berezina, where the fictional couple of the story are tragically separated. Years later after imprisonment, the husband returns to find his wife still in a state of utter shock and amnesia. He has the battle and their separation reenacted, hoping the memory will heal her state.
  • William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair takes place during the 1815 Napoleonic War – one of its protagonists dies at the Battle of Waterloo. Thackeray states in Chapter XXX "We do not claim to rank among the military novelists. Our place is with the non-combatants. When the decks are cleared for action we go below and wait meekly." And indeed he presents no descriptions of military leaders, strategy, or combat; he describes anxious non-combatants waiting in Brussels for news.
  • Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell is set in the English home-front during the Napoleonic Wars and depicts the impressment of sailors by roving press gangs.
  • The Duel, a short story by Joseph Conrad, recounts the story based on true events of two French Hussar officers who carry a long grudge and fight in duels each time they meet during the Napoleonic wars. The short story was adapted by director Ridley Scott into the 1977 Cannes Film Festival's Best First Work award-winning film The Duellists.
  • "Mr Midshipman Easy" (1836), semi-autobiographical novel by Captain Frederick Marryat, who served as a Royal Navy officer (1806–1830) including during Napoleonic Wars, and who wrote many novels, and who was a pioneer of the Napoleonic wars sea story about the experiences of British naval officers.
  • Le Colonel Chabert by Honoré de Balzac. After being severely wounded during the battle of Eylau (1807), Chabert, a famous colonel of the cuirassiers, was erroneously recorded as dead and buried unconscious with French casualties. After extricating himself from his grave and being nursed back to health by local peasants, it takes several years for him to recover. When he returns to the Paris of the Bourbon Restoration, he discovers that his "widow", a former prostitute that Chabert made rich and honourable, has married the wealthy Count Ferraud. She has also liquidated all of Chabert's belongings and pretends not to recognise her first husband. Seeking to regain his name and monies that were wrongly given away as inheritance, he hires Derville, an attorney, to win back his money and his honour.
  • A poem Borodino by Mikhail Lermontov describes the Battle of Borodino from the perspective of poet's uncle, a Russian officer.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père starts during the tail-end of the Napoleonic Wars. The main character, Edmond Dantès, suffers imprisonment following false accusations of Bonapartist leanings.
  • The novelist Jane Austen lived much of her life during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and two of her brothers served in the Royal Navy. Austen almost never refers to specific dates or historical events in her novels, but wartime England forms part of the general backdrop to several of them: in Pride and Prejudice (1813, but possibly written during the 1790s), the local militia (civilian volunteers) has been called up for home defence and its officers play an important role in the plot; in Mansfield Park (1814), Fanny Price's brother William is a midshipman (officer in training) in the Royal Navy; and in Persuasion (1818), Frederic Wentworth and several other characters are naval officers recently returned from service.
  • Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley (1849), set during the Napoleonic Wars, explores some of the economic effects of war on rural Yorkshire.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard serves as a French soldier during the Napoleonic Wars
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky's book The Idiot had a character, General Ivolgin, who witnessed and recounted his relationship with Napoleon during the Campaign of Russia.
  • Roger Brook is a fictional secret agent and Napoleonic Wars Era gallant, later identified as the Chevalier de Breuc, in a series of twelve novels by Dennis Wheatley
  • The Hornblower books by C.S. Forester follow the naval career of Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars. The 1951 film "Captain Horatio Hornblower" starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo and directed by Raoul Walsh is a film adaption based on Forester's series of novels. Also by C.S. Forester two novels of the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal: "Death to the French" (1932, published in the United States under the title "Rifleman Dodd"), and "The Gun" (1933), later made into a 1957 film, "The Pride and the Passion", with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren, directed by Stanley Kramer.
  • R.F. Delderfield, two novels about the Napoleonic Wars; "Seven Men of Gascony" (1949) about seven French infantrymen serving in a succession of Napoleonic campaigns, and "Too Few for Drums" (1969) about British soldiers cut off behind the French lines in Portugal in 1810, during the Peninsular War.
  • The Aubrey–Maturin series of novels is a sequence of 20 historical novels by Patrick O'Brian portraying the rise of Jack Aubrey from Lieutenant to Rear Admiral during the Napoleonic Wars. The film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russell Crowe and directed by Peter Weir is based on this series of books.
  • The Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell stars the character Richard Sharpe, a soldier in the British Army, who fights throughout the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Bloody Jack book series by Louis A. Meyer is set during the Second Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars, and retells many famous battles of the age. The heroine, Jacky, meets Bonaparte.
  • The Napoleonic Wars provide the backdrop for The Emperor, The Victory, The Regency and The Campaigners, Volumes 11, 12, 13 and 14 respectively of The Morland Dynasty, a series of historical novels by author Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.
  • The Richard Bolitho series by Alexander Kent novels portray this period of history from a naval perspective.
  • G.S. Beard, author of two novels (2010) about John Fury, British naval officer during Napoleonic Wars.
  • Robert Challoner, author of three novels in the series about Charles Oakshott, British naval officer in Napoleonic Wars.
  • David Donachie's John Pearce series about a pressed seaman who becomes a British naval officer during the French Revolution wars and Napoleonic Wars.
  • Julian Stockwin's Thomas Kydd series portrays one man's journey from pressed man to Admiral in the time of the French and Napoleonic Wars
  • Simon Scarrow – Napoleonic series. Rise of Napoleon and Wellington from humble beginnings to history's most remarkable and notable leaders. Four books in the series.
  • The Lord Ramage series by Dudley Pope takes place during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Jeanette Winterson's 1987 novel The Passion (novel)
  • Georgette Heyer's 1937 novel An Infamous Army recounts the fortunes of a family in the run up to, and during the course of, the Battle of Waterloo. Heyer's novel is noted for its meticulous research on the progress of the battle, combining her noted period romance writing with her detailed research into regency history.
  • The Battle (French: La Bataille) is a historical novel by the French author Patrick Rambaud that was first published in 1997 and again in English in 2000. The book describes the 1809 Battle of Aspern-Essling between the French Empire under Napoleon and the Austrian Empire. The novel was awarded the Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for 1997.
  • In Jasper Kent's novel Twelve, 1812 Russian Invasion serves as a base story for the book. Later books from The Danilov Quintet, this war is constantly mentioned.
  • The Fighting Sail series by Alaric Bond portrays life and action aboard Royal Naval vessels during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. From the lower decks to the quarterdeck Bond's detailed settings are realistic. Narratives are told not just from a commissioned officer's point of view but include varied perspectives, including warranted officers, ordinary and able seamen, marines, supernumeraries, and women aboard presenting a broader, more complete picture of the Georgian Navy.[1]
Science fiction and fantasy
  • Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts – perhaps more "fact" than "fiction" – is a "closet drama" encompassing the entire scope of the Napoleonic Wars, written by Hardy during the Edwardian Era.
Video games
  • Napoleon: Total War is a strategy game focusing on the Napoleonic Wars, allowing the player to fight real-time battles.
  • Mount & Blade: Warband is a medieval roleplaying game, that includes an expansion themed to Napoleonic Wars.
  • A Popular mod for the Strategy Game Hearts of Iron 4 called Apres Moi Le Deluge Depicts an alternate 1936 where Napoleonic France had won the Napoleonic Wars. This led to many things such as the House of Bourbon fleeing to the Louisiana Territory and establishing a rump state, France dominating Europe, Britain losing Ireland to French backed Rebels and ultimately never truly rising in power (Although they do keep Northern India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa), Countries such as Poland and Hungary gaining early independence, and an Alternate World War 1 started due to Poland and Hungary attempting to partition Austria only for France and its alliance to protect Austria, and the United Kingdom backing the Polish-Hungarian "Central Powers"
  • Holdfast: Nations at War is an online multiplayer shooter set during the Napoleonic era, allowing the player to take part in battles on land and sea.[2]


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  2. ^ Studios, Anvil Game. "Holdfast: Nations At War - A competitive multiplayer first and third person shooter set during the Napoleonic Era". Retrieved 2019-06-19.