10 Romantic Period Dramas Based on Novels for Avid Readers

Updated On 2nd October 2020

Romantic Period dramas are perhaps one of the best subgenres of romantic movies. If you are a fan of period dramas and love classic novels, these romantic period dramas are perfect for you. Take a break from all the daily procrastination and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. These movies are guaranteed to transfer you to a world full of Kings, Queens, Knights and Dukes. You might even spot your favourite classic novel here!

1. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson in the Romantic Period Drama Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Source: Sony Pictures Releasing

Sense and Sensibility is a 1995 British period drama directed by Ang Lee. The movie stars Emma Thompson, Kate Walsh, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. Based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, the 1995 movie is one of the best adaptations of the novel. The story chronicles around the Dashwood sisters played by Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. The sisters are left to deal with the hardships of poverty after their father’s demise. When their brother (James Fleet) and his wife (Harriet Walter) refuse financial help, they are forced to seek marriage as their sole financial security. This movie is one of the best romantic period dramas you could look for.

2. The Princess Bride (1987)

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright is the romantic period drama, The Princess Bride (1987)
Source: 20th Century Fox

The Princess Bride is an american fantasy period comedy. William Goldman adapted the movie from his 1973 novel of the same name. The movie is a romantic comedy about Westley (Cary Elwes). Westley is a farmhand who joins forces with his companions to rescue his one true love, Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright). The princess is forced into marriage to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) and Westley has to save her. What may come off as a children’s comedy is, in fact, a cult film. The film has been known to be on the list of Channel 4’s Greatest Comedy Films.

3. Little Women (2019)

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women (2019)
Source: Sony Pictures Releasing

Little Women is an Oscar-nominated film based on the novel written by Louisa May Alcott. This coming of age story is about four sisters who have very different outlooks and wants from life. What is similar in all of them is their love for each other their family. Neither the book nor the movie boasts one single heroine since it sheds light on four sisters. However, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) is the most feministic character on screen and rightfully so. The movie also stars Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen and Timothee Chalamet. Little Women juggles romance and familial arguments all while retaining the charm of independent women and love for one’s family.

Related: Top 10 Coming Of Age Movies You Need To Watch This Weekend

4. Pride And Prejudice (2005)

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden in the 2005 Romantic period drama, Pride and Prejudice.
Source: Focus Features

“You have bewitched me Body and soul and I love you”. This line might just go down in history as one of the most romantic lines said in a movie. Directed by Joe Wright, Pride and Prejudice 2005 is a romantic period drama. The movie is one of the best adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, if not the best. As far as romantic period dramas go, this is a fan favourite among all. Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet makes a perfect Jane Austen heroine, sarcastic and confident. While Matthew Macfayden as Mr Darcy is going to make your heart leap out of your chest. Apart from the stunning cinematography, the best part about Pride and Prejudice is the chemistry between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Safe to say, this period drama is going to become one of your favourites as soon as you watch it.

Related: What makes Romcoms so Addictive?

5. Emma (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy in Emma (2020)
Source: Focus Features

Directed by Autumn De Wilde, Emma is a 2020 romantic comedy. It is another adaptation of a Jane Austen novel of the same name. Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a witty woman who lives with her father (Bill Nighy) in a lavish household. At first, Emma might come off as patronizing but she finds absolute joy in setting up her friends. Her matchmaking might come off as “misguided and often meddlesome in fashion” but she has everyone’s best interest in her heart. The comedic father-daughter duo is outstanding. The chemistry between Emma and Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn) is truly one of a kind. 

6. Jane Eyre (2011)

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011)
Source: Focus Features

Jane Eyre is a romantic period-drama directed by Cary Fukunaga. It is an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel of the same name. Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is the protagonist who has a rather unpleasant childhood as an orphan. When appointed as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Jane Eyre meets the master of the house, Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane and Edward soon share fond moments which lead to a romantic love story. Among the plethora of adaptations of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the 2011 adaptation remains to be the one which does the 1847 novel justice. 

7. Atonement (2007)

Keira Knightley in Atonement (2007)
Source: Focus Features

Atonement is a romantic war film based on Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel. Set in 1953 England, the story spans over six decades. The film boasts an outstanding cast with the likes of Kiera Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, James McAvoy and many more. The story chronicles around a lie told by Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and the consequences of that follow.

8. Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

This British romantic drama is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel of the same name. Far from the Madding Crowd is a 2015 romantic period drama. The film is directed by Thomas Vinerberg and stars Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge. It takes place in 1870 Britain, where Bathsheba Everdeen (Carey Mulligan) is confused about choosing between the affections of three men. 

9. Persuasion (1995)

Amanda Roots in Persuasion(1995)
Source: Sony Pictures Classics

Persuasion is the adaptation of yet another Jane Austen novel, directed by Roger Michell. The story takes place in 19th century England. It stars Amanda Root and Ciarán Hind as the main protagonists. Annie Elliot (Amanda Root) meets her love interest Captain Frederick Wentworth (Ciarán Hind) eight years after her refusal of his proposal.

10.The Great Gatsby (2013)

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby(2013)
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Great Gatsby is the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerlad’s 1925 novel and was co-written and directed by Baz Luhrmann. This movie still remains one of the most famous romantic period dramas. The film takes place in the 1920s, also known as the Roaring ’20s or the Jazz Age. It centres around the lives of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), his neighbour and friend.  The film follows the lavish and over the top lifestyle of Jay Gatsby and his unrequited love interest, Daisy (Carey Mulligan).