Bridget Jones’s Diary is the most popular romantic book of the last 60 years say the Romantic Novelists' Association

Bridget Jones’s Diary has beaten tough competition to take the top spot

Bridget Jones's Diary Film adaptation still
(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Bridget Jones’s Diary has long been one of the most popular works of fiction. Not only did the original book (opens in new tab) by Helen Fielding achieve great success, but the subsequent film adaptation (opens in new tab) starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant brought Bridget’s story to a whole new audience. 

Readers and viewers alike were captivated by the epic highs and lows of Bridget Jones’s love life. 

Now a poll conducted by the Romantic Novelist’s Association has revealed that Bridget Jones’s Diary is the most romantic book (opens in new tab) of the last 60 years. 

Why has Bridget Jones’s Diary won this accolade?

As part of the Romantic Novelist’s Association (opens in new tab)’s 60 year anniversary celebrations, they conducted a reader poll looking into the most romantic novels.

The Association wished to showcase and celebrate game-changing works of romantic fiction, together with the readers who love romance too. The overall winner Bridget Jones’s Diary was chosen from some of the bestselling romantic fiction titles published over the past 60 years as voted for by the public and RNA members.

A shortlist drawn from member votes was created for each year and an overall book winner from each decade from 1960s-2010s went into the final.

This hotly contested final saw Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding up against Jilly Cooper’s Riders for first place. 

Ultimately, Helen’s tale of the ever-relatable Bridget came out on top.

Cover of Bridget Jones's Diary

(Image credit: Amazon.co.uk)
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Best-selling author and President of the RNA Katie Fforde has said, “In Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding gave us a new genre which has been endlessly copied but never surpassed”. 

Who were the other contenders?

Whilst only Bridget Jones’s Diary was given the position of overall winner in the end, each decade’s winning romantic novel was equally compelling. 

As Katie Fforde has said: “Romantic fiction is timeless and books written decades ago are still loved today. This is a wonderful list with some real classics on it.”

Helen Fielding’s hilarious classic made its way to the final after first being crowned the winning romantic novel of the 1990s. 

But there are plenty of other winners (opens in new tab) throughout the past 60 years well worth reading. 

Best Romantic Fiction of 1960’s

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Frederica by Georgette Heyer

This regency romance is perfect for those who want a historical setting to their timeless romance. Vernon Alverstoke finds himself reluctantly involved in one drama after another when a distant connection asks for help. Then he encounters the Merriville family’s headstrong daughter Frederica. He may be interested in her, but Frederica seemingly cares far more about her family’s welfare...

Best Romantic Fiction of 1970’s

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The bestselling novel from Australian author Colleen McCullough focuses on the Cleary family and the only daughter Meggie in particular. Meggie can never have the man she loves – Ralph de Bricassart. For Ralph is a priest who soon rises to the inner circles of the Vatican. Though will his love for Meggie ever leave him?

Best Romantic Fiction of 1980’s

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Riders by Jilly Cooper

It’s a classic for a reason! Set in the stunning countryside, Jake Lovell has never had any trouble charming horses or women. But he certainly has a problem with Rupert Campbell-Black, darling of the show ring. The feud between the two men then erupts at the Los Angeles Olympics, with unimaginable consequences. Jilly Cooper draws you into the horse-riding world and makes it dramatic, mischievous and hilarious as you’d hope. 

Best Romantic Fiction of 2000’s

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P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

This million copy bestseller has also been adapted for film and is no less tear-inducing whichever way you choose to embrace the story. Holly and Gerry were childhood sweethearts. No part of them can imagine spending their lives without the other. But when Gerry receives devastating news, Holly finds that she might have to after all - and that Gerry might have found a way to help her.  

Best Romantic Fiction of 2010’s

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Many readers will have shed more than a few tears over Jojo Moyes’ emotional novel. Follow Lou as she becomes carer to wheelchair bound Will. Initially distant with the exuberant Lou, he soon comes to value her for all she is. But despite all the positivity she has brought to his life, can Will ever be persuaded to carry on? 

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.