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Southwold on a grey day (c) Catherine Sharman

STORIES SET IN SUFFOLK: THE COUNTY IN BOOKS

With it’s dramatic coastline, beautiful landscapes, and rural nature, it’s no surprise that there are so many stories set in Suffolk. The county lends itself excellently to suspense and drama, and becomes a character in its own right. Here are some great authors who took the county to their hearts (and plots).
George Orwell (c) Wikimedia CommonsEric Blair’s encounter with Suffolk left him a changed man in everything including name
Photo (c) Wikimedia Commons

GEORGE ORWELL

Now this is a man who loved Suffolk. He took his pen-name from the river that runs through the south of the county, and set his 1935 novel ‘The Clergyman’s Daughter’ is set in fictional Suffolk village Knype Hill.

P.D. JAMES

Baroness James of Holland Park had a holiday home in Suffolk and her love of the area has found its way into several of her novels. Adam Dalgliesh finds himself investigating murder on the coast in ‘Death in Holy Orders’, and ‘Unnatural Causes’, while Southwold is a pivotal place in ‘Children of Men’.

W.G. SEBALD

The German writer’s ‘Rings of Saturn’ is a first person novel centred around a walking tour of Suffolk. The county is recreated in loving detail as are the people he encounters as he treks through the towns and villages.
Pin Mill in Suffolk (c) tomline43The Suffolk fishing hamlet of Pin Mill inspired Arthur Ransome
Photo (c) tomline43

ARTHUR RANSOME

A writer of novels that have inspired generations of children to mess about on the water, he lived in Suffolk for five years before the War forced him to move back to the Lake District. Both ‘We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea’ and ‘Secret Water’ were set in the tidal waters of the River Orwell.

GEORGE CRABBE

A poet, surgeon, and clergyman born in Aldeburgh, Crabbe’s major work, ‘The Borough’, was started in Rendham in 1801 and finished in Aldeburgh in 1809. It was well received by the critics of the day and inspired Benjamin Britten to write ‘Peter Grimes’ over a century later.
Felixstowe Martello TowerM.R. James' chilling ghost story 'A Warning to the Curious' featured Felixstowe's Martello Tower
Photo (c) Amanda Slater

M.R. JAMES

Master of the supernatural story, James lived in Great Livermere for over forty years, and wrote many stories set in Suffolk. The terrifying ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’ is set in a fictional Felixstowe, ‘A Warning to the Curious’ takes place in Aldeburgh, and he uses his home town for both ‘Rats’ and ‘Vignette’.

ALEXANDER McCALL-SMITH

A departure from tropical Botswana or the story-rich streets of Scotland, Alexander McCall-Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, chose Suffolk as the setting for his 2007 novel 'La's Orchestra Saves the World.' The story unfolds when La (short for Lavender) is living alone in a rural Suffolk house during the Second World War, and working for a miserly farmer as part of her duties to the Women's Land Army. The story's emotional depth sets it apart from McCall=Smith's more playful novels, making 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' unlike anything else he has written. 

ARE YOU AN AVID READER COMING TO SUFFOLK?

Thanks to the many Literary Festivals in Suffolk, this county is a great place to be a reader. Why not plan your own Literature-Themed Holiday in Suffolk, and tell us all about your adventures via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?