7 History Books Getting TV and Movie Adaptations
January 5, 2023

Disclaimer: this post includes promotional content. However, all opinions are my own.

live for a good costume drama, especially when it involves sweeping cinematography, stellar performances, and gorgeous costume design. Fashion historian Bernadette Banner recently posted her lengthy but fascinating run-down of the best and worst of historical costumes in 2022 movies and TV shows. Keep a pen at the ready so you can jot down movies you missed and want to catch up on.

Her video inspired me to revisit my list of movies and TV shows to watch (yes, I actually have a list) and I noticed a bunch of them were based on non-fiction books as well as some historical fiction. If you like costume dramas too, this list is for you.

 

Upcoming Adaptations Based on Non-Fiction History Books

Masters of the Air (Apple TV+)

Masters of the AirBased on Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany By Donald L. Miller

Masters of the Air is the third wartime mini-series adaptation by WWII mega-nerd dad Tom Hanks (and Gary Goetzman and Steven Spielberg—they’re not our dad though. Tom Hanks is everyone’s dad). Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010) were both on HBO while Masters of the Air will appear on Apple TV+ and will begin streaming mid-spring 2023.

Returning to the western front for the third series, Masters of the Air follows the brave feats of the Eighth Air Force bombers and stars Austin Butler (Elvis), Callum Turner (Emma), and Anthony Boyle (Tolkien). The series will consist of 10 episodes.

 

Lee

The Lives of Lee MillerBased on The Lives of Lee Miller by Antony Penrose

I am so into this movie. WWII? Check. Kate Winslet? Check. Badass ladies stepping into traditionally male roles during wartime? Check. Winslet stars as American model and photographer Lee Miller who, during WWII, becomes a war correspondent for Vogue magazine and covers the London Blitz, D-Day, and the horrors of the concentration camps. Miller is probably most famous for being photographed bathing in the tub of a certain German leader.

The filming of Lee wrapped in December 2022. I’m also delighted to see it was written and directed by women. I’m hoping Lee will be released this year but it might not be out until 2024.

 

Mary & George (Sky and AMC)

Based on The King’s Assassin: The Secret Plot to Murder King James I by Benjamin Woolley

This one is for those who love a bit of court intrigue. Julianne Moore is set to star as Mary Villiers, Countess of Buckingham, an ambitious Jacobean courtier who molded her son George to be the favorite (and lover) of King James I of England. The eight-part series begins filming in early 2023 and is expected to air on Sky later in the year. If I had to guess, I expect it will air on AMC next year.

 

The Devil in the White City (Hulu)

Based on The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

I’ll be frank: this one might not be coming any time soon because it appears to be stuck in development hell. And I’m really salty about it.

The Devil in the White City tells the story of the world’s first known serial killer, H.H. Holmes, and also the development of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Leonardo DiCaprio has held the rights to the book since 2010 and his buddy Martin Scorsese was set to direct when it was going to be a film. Since then, Hulu came on as a production company, and now it’s going to be a mini-series with Scorsese and DiCaprio are signed on as executive producers.

Keanu Reeves was supposed to star as an architect but then dropped out in October 2022 and then days later they lost one of the directors. It doesn’t sound like an ideal situation but I’m holding out hope things get straightened out because as a series, it could be amazing.

 

Upcoming Adaptations Based on Historical Fiction Books

Daisy Jones & the Six (Prime Video)

Based on Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Once this series appears on Prime Video on March 3, 2023, I will probably just cease to exist for several hours until I’ve soaked in every drop of 1970s rock ‘n roll goodness this new mini-series has to offer. The novel is one of my very favorite books of all time. I’m so excited for this 10-episode limited series, I could scream. Riley Keough (yes, the granddaughter of Elvis Presley) stars as Daisy Jones while the enigmatic Billy Dunne is portrayed by Sam Claflin.

Daisy Jones & the Six is heavily inspired by the relationships and drama of Fleetwood Mac and the story unfolds in a unique documentary style. If you plan to read the book before the series comes out in March, I highly recommend the full cast audiobook.

So, no pressure, Prime, but if you don’t do this book justice, I will cry.

 

All the Light We Cannot See (Netflix)

Based on All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I listened to the audiobook recently and I can see why so many people love this Pulitzer Prize-winning WWII novel. Shawn Levy (Arrival, Night at the Museum) directed this four-part mini-series starring Hugh Laurie and Mark Ruffalo. Newcomer Aria Mia Loberti stars as the central character Marie-Laure.

All the Light We Cannot See tells the story of a blind French girl who flees Paris with her father during the German occupation and relocates to Saint-Malo. The novel also tells the story of a young German soldier who shares a special connection with Marie-Laure. The series will likely be released on Netflix sometime in 2023.

 

A Gentleman in Moscow (Paramount+ and Showtime)

Based on A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Ewan MacGregor is set to star in Paramount+’s screen adaptation of A Gentleman in Moscow. (The series will air on Showtime in the US.) MacGregor will play Count Rostov who, upon being found guilty of being an aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, is placed under house arrest in a lavish Moscow hotel across from the Kremlin during the Russian Revolution. A Gentleman in Moscow is scheduled to air in 2023.

 

Are there any upcoming costume dramas based on books that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast and the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle (historical fiction), The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street (historical romance), and The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII (non-fiction). Jill launched The Lazy Historian in 2015. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada’s beautiful east coast. Learn more.

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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a historical fiction writer, a lover of history, and a hoarder of books. I'm the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.

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