Do the Outlander books start in 1945 or 1946?

Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ /

If you’ve read both the Outlander books from the U.S. and the UK, you’ll notice a discrepancy in the dates. Do the books start in 1945 or 1946?

There is a lot of confusion about when Outlander actually begins. The confusion comes from two different dates in different versions of the books. So, does it begin in 1945 or 1946?

The answer lies in the version of the book you read. The original story when published in the U.S. began in May 1945. When Claire traveled through the stones, she went back to 1743. It’s a 202-year time difference, which is something that continues to be used throughout the books.

However, when the book was published in the UK (which was originally under the title “Cross Stitch”) the date was changed. You see, May 1945 doesn’t make sense for Claire and Frank to have returned from the war. Sure, the Germans surrendered in May 1945, but the two wouldn’t have returned home right away. Just look at how long it can take for soldiers to return home from wars now.

Plus, the country still went through rationing for a period after VE Day. The situation in Scotland didn’t make sense for May 1945, so the year was changed to 1946. On Diana Gabaldon’s website, she uses the 1946 date.

However, the year has never been corrected throughout later books. It was never updated in the U.S. version, which can lead for some confusing moments throughout the series.

The TV show changed things slightly, offering a little more sense to the timeline. Claire and Frank arrived in Scotland in October 1945. This would allow some time for Scotland to get back on its feet and make it more realistic that the two could have returned home from war. However, it’s still a tight timeline. The benefit of this date is that it keeps the 202 years a little more consistent.

7 locations from Outlander Season 4 fans need to visit. dark. Next

Do you get confused by the different versions of Outlander? Which starting date do you keep in your head? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Outlander Season 5 premieres on Feb. 16 on STARZ.