This History is the first in a century to trace the development and impact of the novel in French from its beginnings to the present. Leading specialists explore how novelists writing in French have responded to the diverse personal, economic, socio-political, cultural-artistic and environmental factors that shaped their worlds. From the novel's medieval precursors to the impact of the internet, the History provides fresh accounts of canonical and lesser-known authors, offering a global perspective beyond the national borders of 'the Hexagon' to explore France's colonial past and its legacies. Accessible chapters range widely, including the French novel in Sub-Saharan Africa, data analysis of the novel system in the seventeenth century, social critique in women's writing, Sade's banned works and more. Highlighting continuities and divergence between and within different periods, this lively volume offers routes through a diverse literary landscape while encouraging comparison and connection-making between writers, works and historical periods.