This wasn't meant to be a formal survey, but I found it fascinating to read about the novels that got everyone started reading historical fiction. The top titles/authors mentioned were Gone with the Wind, anything by Jean Plaidy, and The Other Boleyn Girl. Other books and authors cited more than once: Outlander (aka Cross Stitch), Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, Sharon Penman, Susan Carroll's The Dark Queen, Johnny Tremain, Dumas, Elizabeth Byrd's Immortal Queen (sounds like a good candidate for reissue!), The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth Chadwick, Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.
There were many, many other books recommended, so please stop by the comment trail on the previous post to read them all. I've certainly added more than a few to my mental TBR list.
I suppose I should answer the question myself, although I don't really remember specific historical novels standing out in my childhood reading. I used to read voraciously and indiscriminately -- classics, contemporary fiction, teenage romances, historical novels, fantasy, SF, mysteries, whatever. I read all the Little House books as well as Witch of Blackbird Pond and Johnny Tremain, the latter two for middle school. I expect most kids growing up in New England read them. The first adult historical novel I remember reading was Anya Seton's Katherine, which I wrote about for a 9th grade research paper. But I think the author who really got me started on reading HF was Jean Plaidy, in her alter ego as Victoria Holt. I read through all of the Holts and all her Philippa Carrs and kept seeing these Jean Plaidy books listed in the ending pages. "Jean Plaidy" didn't sound like a very glamorous name, and I was more into gothic romance at the time, so I figured the books were boring. What can I say.
When I was working a temp secretarial job between grad schools, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time. The boss didn't mind if I read at my desk as long as all his memos got typed up and the phones were answered, and there really wasn't much else to do... I had a PC to work on, but this was before the Web (this probably dates me). So I went through all of the Plaidys in chronological order, reading one a day, until I'd made it through all of the Normans, Plantagenets, Stuarts, Georgians, and Victorians and then all the Queens of England novels that were out at the time. After that, I picked up Valerie Anand's Bridges Over Time books, Margaret Campbell Barnes, what I hadn't yet read of Norah Lofts, and whatever other historical novels I could find on the shelves of the East Lansing Public Library.
I have a feeling I've written most of this on the blog before, but there you have it. And the rest, as they say, is history. :)