Have a literature-themed holiday in Suffolk
Photo (c) John Fielding
PAY HOMAGE TO P.D. JAMES IN SOUTHWOLD
SAIL THE RIVER THAT GAVE GEORGE ORWELL HIS NAME
Another writer who spent many summers in Southwold was Eric Arthur Blair, though you may know him better by his pen name: George Orwell. One of the most important writers of the 20th century, Orwell’s powerful criticism of social injustice earned him a place in the English language, “Orwellian” now being a common byword for dystopian, totalitarian and authoritarian states. But before 1984 and Animal Farm there was A Clergyman’s Daughter, written while using his parents’ home in Southwold as a base between 1929 and 1934. (It was during these years and their long summers on the beach that Orwell fell for Brenda Salkeld, a gym teacher in Southwold and the daughter of a clergyman. Though she rejected his proposal of marriage, they remained friends for a long time.)
You can still see Orwell’s family home in Southwold, which is now Marks Fish & Chip Shop on the High Street. However, to get a better sense of how Orwell felt about The Suffolk Coast, we recommend sailing with Viking Mariners or aboard the Sailing Barge Victor along the River Orwell, a river Eric Arthur Blair loved so much he took its name.
Photo (c) Karen Roe
GO BOATING ON THE LAKE INSPIRED BY J.M. BARRIE
‘Peter Grimes’ was performed on Aldeburgh beach to mark Britten’s centenary
Photo (c) Robert Workman
EXPLORE THE REAL BOROUGH OF GEORGE CRABBE
Aldeburgh is famously associated with the composer Benjamin Britten, often cited as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, yet there is another figure in Aldeburgh’s history whose work was the precursor to Britten’s own. George Crabbe was born in Aldeburgh in 1754, and spent the first 25 years of his life in Suffolk. During that time he studied society closely and developed an intimate knowledge about Aldeburgh’s middle-class and working-class people, which would later inform his most famous work, a poem called The Borough. The Borough described a fictional version of Aldeburgh, and detailed the stories of the people that lived there, among them the tragic tale of the fisherman, Peter Grimes. It was this story above all others that struck a chord with Britten, who read it as a powerful allegory of homosexual repression. 135 years after George Crabbe published The Borough, Britten’s adaptation of Peter Grimes was performed for the first time at Sadler’s Wells. It would go on to become his most celebrated opera.
Visiting Aldeburgh today you can’t fail to feel Britten’s presence, especially in the world-renowned Aldeburgh Music institution he founded there. However, George Crabbe is there too, his story intertwined with Britten’s own. For literature lovers, the best times to explore Aldeburgh are during the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (6th – 8th November) or the Aldeburgh Literary Festival, which takes place every March.
BE SPOOKED BY M.R. JAMES' GHOSTS IN FELIXSTOWE
Photo (c) Karen Roe
SLEEP IN CHARLES DICKENS' FAVOURITE BED IN BURY ST EDMUNDS
SEE THE BRECKS LOVED BY HELEN MACDONALD
Photo (c) Susan Wyndham