Oldest Alternate Histories

This page lists alternate histories written before the genre could be considered a genre.

Arguments can be made for a number of possible dates marking a possible genre beginning (see, e.g., Winthrop-Young's "Fallacies and Thresholds"), from the 1931 publication of J.C. Squire's anthology If It Had Happened Otherwise to the 1953 publication of Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee. The date chosen here is 1939, the year that L. Sprague de Camp's original short story of "Lest Darkness Fall" saw publication, an event which effectively made alternate history fiction a sub-genre of science fiction.

The increasing number of alternate histories which saw publication from the mid-1930s on are presumably a result of the generally respectful treatment given the subject by the essayists in Squire's If It Had Happened Otherwise and by historian Albert Toynbee in three essays included in his A Study of History.

The first allohistorical novel would seem to be Geoffroy-Château's Napoléon et la conquête du monde, 1812-1823: histoire de la monarchie universelle (1836). Although Benjamin Disraeli's The Wondrous Tale of Alroy (1833) predates that work, there is serious question whether Alroy is truly allohistorical.

The earliest allohistorical short story is apparently Nathaniel Hawthorne's "P.'s Correspondence" (1845).

Other pre-1850 items listed below are not entirely alternate history but contain allohistorical digressions within larger works.

c-35 — Livy (Titus Livius). Ab urbe condita

1732 — Lesage, Alain-René. Les Aventures de Monsieur Robert Chevalier, dit de Beauchêne, capitaine de flibustiers dans la Nouvelle-France

1791 — Delisle de Sales, Jean-Baptiste-Claude. Ma République [vt Eponine, ou De la république]

1813 — Pignotti, Lorenzo. Storia della Toscana sino al principato: con diversi saggi sulle scienze, lettere e arti

1824 — Disraeli, Isaac D. "Of a History of Events Which Have Not Happened"

1833 — Disraeli, Benjamin. The Wondrous Tale of Alroy [vt Alroy: or, The Prince of the Captivity, a Wondrous Tale]

1836 — Geoffroy-Château, Louis-Napoléon. Napoléon et la conquête du monde, 1812-1823: histoire de la monarchie universelle [vt Napoléon apocryphe]

1845 — Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "P.'s Correspondence"

1854 — Méry, Joseph. "Histoire de ce qui n'est pas arrivé"

1872 — Blanqui, Louis-Auguste. L'Éternité par les astres: hypothèse astronomique

1876 — Renouvier, Charles. Uchronie (l'utopie dans l'histoire), esquisse historique apocryphe du développement de la civilisation européenne tel qu'il n'a pas été, tel qu'il aurait pu être

1881 — Hale, Edward Everett. "Hands Off"

1885 — Fabra, Nilo Maria. "Cuatro siglos de buen gobierno"

1895 — Holford, Castello N. Aristopia. A Romance-History of the New World

1899 — Lawrence, Edmund. It May Happen Yet: A Tale of Bonaparte's Invasion of England

1900 — Herzl, Theodor. "Der Unterhimer Bounaparte"

1900 — Williams, F.P. Hallie Marshall: A True Daughter of the South

1902 — Pidgin, Charles Felton. The Climax; or, What Might Have Been: A Romance of the Great Republic

1904 — Beerbohm, Max. "A Panacea"

1905 — Wells, H.G. A Modern Utopia

1906 — Munk, Odd. Det nye Norge: Krigen 1905

1907 — Chamberlin, Joseph Edgar. The Ifs of History

1907 — Grunfeld, P.P. Alroy; A Music-drama, in Four Acts

1907 — Trevelyan, G.M. "If Napoleon had Won the Battle of Waterloo"

1918 — McManus, Lily. The Professor in Erin

1920 — Beck, James M. "It Might Have Been"

1921 — Homsy, Gaston. Si les Allemands avaient gagne la guerre…

1921 — Rigaut, Jacques. "Un brillant sujet"

1922 — Baring, Maurice. "The Alternative"

1924 — Pervuhin, Mikhail. Пугачёв-победитель [Pugachev — Pobeditel]

1924 — Słonimski, Antoni. Torpeda czasu: powieść fantastyczna

1926 — Dent, Guy. Emperor of the If

1926 — Petrie, Charles. "If: A Jacobite Fantasy"

1926 — Waldron, Webb. "If Lincoln had Yielded"

1927 — Motta, Luigi. Il tunnel sottomarino

1929 — Doyle, Arthur Conan. "The Death Voyage"

1929 — Hearnshaw, F.J.C. The "Ifs" of History

1929 — Laumann, E.M., and René Jeanne. Si, le 9 thermidor…: hypothègse historique

1930 — Churchill, Winston S. "If Lee had not Won the Battle of Gettysburg"

1930 — Waldman, Milton. "If Booth had Missed Lincoln"

1930 — Thurber, James. "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox"

1930 — Mencken, H.L. "The Calamity of Appomattox"

1930 — Newman, Bernard. The Cavalry Went Through!

1931 — Guedalla, Philip. "If the Moors in Spain had Won"

1931 — Maurois, André. "If Louis XVI had an Atom of Firmness"

1931 — Squire, J.C. "If It Had Been Discovered in 1930 that Bacon Really Did Write Shakespeare" [vt "Professor Gubbin's Revolution"]

1931 — Belloc, Hilaire. "If Drouet's Cart had Stuck"

1931 — Ludwig, Emil. "If the Emperor Frederick had not had Cancer"

1931 — Knox, Ronald. "If the General Strike had Succeeded"

1931 — Squire, J.C. (ed.). If It Had Happened Otherwise: Lapses Into Imaginary History [vt If: or, History Rewritten]

1931 — Van Loon, Hendrik Willem. "If the Dutch had Kept Nieuw Amsterdam"

1931 — Fisher, H.A.L. "If Napoleon had Escaped to America"

1931 — Chesterton, G.K. "If Don John of Austria had Married Mary Queen of Scots"

1931 — Nicolson, Harold. "If Byron had Become King of Greece"

1932 — Goodman, Arthur. If Booth had Missed: A Drama of the Reconstruction Period

1933 — Schachner, Nat. "Ancestral Voices"

1933 — Squire, J.C. "What Might Have Happened"

1933 — Newman, Bernard. Hosanna!

1934 — Toynbee, Arnold J. "The Forfeited Birthright of the Abortive Scandinavian Civilization"

1934 — Toynbee, Arnold J. "The Forfeited Birthright of the Abortive Far Western Christian Civilization"

1934 — Toynbee, Arnold J. "The Forfeited Birthright of the Abortive Far Eastern Christian Civilization"

1934 — Leinster, Murray. "Sidewise in Time"

1935 — Benét, Stephen Vincent. "The Curfew Tolls"

1935 — Lewis, Lloyd. "If Lincoln Had Lived"

1935 — Rolfe, Frederick William, and C.H. Pirie-Gordon. Hubert's Arthur: Being Certain Curious Documents Found Among the Literary Remains of Mr. N.C.

1936 — Dabney, Virginius. "If the South had Won the War"

1937 — Nock, Albert Jay. "If Only—"

1937 — Aron, Robert. Victoire à Waterloo

1938 — Bopp, Léon. Liaisons du monde: roman d'un politique

1938 — Sell, William. "Other Tracks"

1938 — Villard, Oswald Garrison. "Issue and Men"

1939 — De Camp, L. Sprague. Lest Darkness Fall