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 by Helen Fielding achieve great success, but the subsequent film adaptation 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 of the last 60 years. 

Why has Bridget Jones’s Diary won this accolade?

As part of the Romantic Novelist’s Association’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)

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 throughout the past 60 years well worth reading. 

Best Romantic Fiction of 1960’s

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...

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

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?

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

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. 

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

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.  

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

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? 

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 five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!