One of the most precious skills any author can have is an inimitable command over the genre he/she chooses to specialize in. Those who steered their careers towards the romance genre have had a tough time to rise above the cliché love stories and create pulse pounding romance works that live to this day. In the following list, I aim to trace those classic and contemporary romance authors who have most significantly made their name worthy of acclaim along with each of their most popular quotes that explain the depth of their writing abilities.
1. Jane Austen (1775-1817)
At first mention, it is hard to categorically accept Jane Austen as a romance author even though she has penned some of the best romantic fiction novels of the English literature including Pride and Prejudice (1813), Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Persuasion (1818). Unlike other contemporary writers, Austen’s novels intersperse love with societal elements having a great deal of emphasis on social norms and female characters.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” ― Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice
2. Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
Most accredited for bringing something new to the table with her gothic melodrama in romantic fictions, Charlotte Brontë was another gifted writer who raised the benchmark for romantic novels with her all-time classic: Jane Eyre (1847). The novel tells the story of an orphan governess who makes the dreadful mistake of falling in love with her employer.
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
3. Emily Brontë (1818-1848)
Shakespeare, Austen and Charlotte Brontë are sometimes believed to be only close runner ups against Emily Brontë’s literary masterpiece, Wuthering Heights (1847). The book challenged 19th century Victorian norms about social class, gender, religion and morality. It is unfortunate that her only published novel received widespread criticism in its initial years and Emily did not live to see how it gradually gained acceptability to become one of the most widely read and favourite love stories of all time.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” ― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
4. Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
American journalist and author Margaret Mitchell is the fourth participant in this category owing to her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gone With the Wind (1937) which sold more than 30 million copies and was converted into a an academy award winning film. Mitchell began her love stories fetish as a child and went on to write adventure books and later even directed plays. Her second novel, Lost Laysen (1996) – a manuscript discovered after her death- is also a love story set in the South Pacific.
“Well, my dear, take heart. Someday, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient.” ― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
5. Audrey Niffenegger (1963 – )
Writer, academic, visual artist and most lauded as a graphic novelist, Audrey Niffenegger is an American born 21st century Renaissance woman. Her romantic novel is distinct because of its mix with science fiction in The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003) which sold over seven million copies, translated in forty languages and was adapted into a film. Rumour has it that Niffenegger was troubled with her own love life during the time the she wrote this novel
which makes it even more poignant.
“Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?” ― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife
6. Nicholas Sparks (1965 – )
Arguably one of the world’s most loved romantic storytellers, Nicholas Sparks is an American producer, screenwriter and novelist with seventeen novels to his credit as well as one non fiction book. Nine of his novels were translated into films including The Notebook (1996), A Walk to Remember (1999), Dear John (2006) and Safe Haven (2010) to name a few.
“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
7. Nora Roberts (1950- )
Nora Roberts also known as J.D.Robb, Jill March or Sarah Hardesty, is one of the world’s bestselling authors and has been revered for rewriting the rules of romantic fiction. She has written 209 romance novels, is a founding member and inductee of Romantic Writers of America’s Hall of Fame, was awarded RWA Lifetime Achievement Award and was an unprecedented 21 of the RWA’s RITA Awards-the highest honor awarded in the romance genre.
Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live. ― Nora Roberts, Charmed
8. Jude Deveraux (1947 – )
Famous for merging history with romance, Jude Deveraux is a popular romance novelist with 36 of her novels being featured in The New York Times Bestseller List as of 2010, had over 60 million copies sold and her work has been translated into 18 languages. Her love-stories revolve around humour, history, and adventure. A Knight and Shining Armour (2002) is believed to be her best work thus far.
“There are some things that are as ancient as time, and knowing when a man desires you is one of those.” ― Jude Deveraux, Secrets
9. Julie Garwood (1944 – )
Many say that that storytelling comes naturally to the Irish and this was also true for Julie Garwood who takes pride in her Irish heritage. She has written more than twenty-seven novels in romance and historical genres, sold over thirty-five million copies and remained New York Times Bestsellers for 24 of her novels. Julie’s goal is to make her readers cry and laugh and fall in love altogether whilst reading her books.
“I know the truth now. You’ve figured out I’m falling in love with you and you’re trying to make me stop by hurting me this way. Well it won’t work. ― Julie Garwood, The Wedding
10. Judith McNaught (1944 – )
Her very first novel, Whitney My Love (1985) won a Romantic Times Award which speaks for itself when it comes to this bestseller writer who, over the years, has McNaughtized millions. Until You (1994), Remember When (1996) and Night Whispers (1998) and five more novels were a smashing success in the romantic genre category too as they hit number 1 on the NY Times Bestsellers list.
“There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it.” ― Judith McNaught, Remember When
Also Read: Top 10 Famous Romance Novels of All Time