Shropshire Literary Connections
The beauty of the Shropshire landscape has been the inspiration for a number of well known authors, some who stayed in Shropshire and others who were just passing through.
Our towns and villages have been the setting for many novels across many different genres, romance, historical drama, whodunits.
Below we have gathered a list of some of those authors who have been inspired by Shropshire.
A children's author from Wellington in Shropshire has been hailed as the next J.K. Rowling after the huge international success of the Jack Brenin fantasy adventure series. The first book in this series, The Golden Acorn, was the overall winner of the 2010 Brit Writers Awards and the movie rights for the series have been optioned by Delve Films.
William Wycherley (1640 - 1716)
Wycherley who wrote the satirical dramas 'The Plain Dealer' and 'The Country Wife' was born at Clive Hall near Wem. Although he spent most of his writing career in London, he often retreated to shropshire to avoid his pursuing creditors.
Daniel Defoe (1660 - 1731)
Daniel Defoe was the author of 'Robinson Crusoe' and he was well travelled man who toured through the whole of Great Britain. He recorded his observations and published a his 'Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain' in which he includes comments on Whitchurch and Shrewsbury.
George Farquhar (1678 - 1707)
George Farquhar Was an Army recruitment officer who often stayed in the Raven Hotel whilst recruiting men. He recorded his experiences in his book 'The Recruitment Officer' which was dedicated to 'All friends round the Wrekin'.
Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)
Johnson was the creator of the first dictionary and travelled through Shropshire on his way to North Wales. En-route he stopped at Hawkstone Park and was impressed with the caves, grottoes and follies.
Patrick Bronte (1777 - 1861)
Father of the well known Charlotte, Emily and Anne, Patrick Bronte was actually a curate at the All Saints Church in Wellington. Whilst there he wrote two volumes of poetry.
Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
Dickens stayed in Shropshire many times over the years and wrote about Shrewsbury's Lion Hotel on Wyle Cop and Wroxeter Roman city. In his novel 'Great Expectations' he based the character of Miss Haversham on Elizabeth Parker of Chetwynd Hall. Little Nell from 'The Old Curiosity Shop' is buried in Tong Churchyard.
A. E. Housman (1859 – 1920)
Perhaps the poet most closely associated with Shropshire. His work ‘A Shropshire Lad’ which featured references to the Blue Remembered Hills is perhaps his most recognised work.
E.M. Forster (1879 - 1970)
Forster who wrote the novel 'Howard's End ' transformed the Shropshire town ofClun into Oniton.
D.H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930)
Lawrence wrote of a sense of evil and foreboding in his novel 'St Mawr'. He was referring to the Devil's Chair on the Stiperstones. Even to this day it remains a wild and frightening place.
P. G. Wodehouse (1881 - 1975)
P. G. Wodehouse described Shropshire as “the nearest earthly place to paradise” and he knew a thing or two. He also wisely set Blandings Castle in this neck of the woods – at Weston Park to be precise but he could equally have chosen Attingham, Hawkstone Hall, or Powis Castle.
"I rashly placed Blandings Castle in Shropshire because my happiest days as a boy were spent near Bridgnorth, overlooking the fact that to get to the heart of Shropshire takes four hours (or did in my time. No doubt British Railways have cut it down a lot)."
Indeed they have.
Mary Webb (1881 – 1927)
Mary Webb is another famous Shropshire writer. She grew up in Shropshire and used many of our towns in her writing, with references to Bishop’s Castle, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Habberley, The Stiperstones, and Longmynd.
She wrote five novels all of which reflect her devotion and love of Shropshire.
She was born near Shrewsbury in the village of Leighton and moved around a lot. During her life she lived in Much Wenlock, Pontesbury, Shrewsbury and Lyth Hill. Indeed when her novel ‘Gone to Earth’ was made into a film, the location that the producers used was Much Wenlock.
There is even a car and walking trail around Shropshire that takes you to some of the places she wrote of in her books.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Wilfred Owen is commonly regarded as the finest war poet of his generation. He was born at Plas Wilmot, Oswestry and spent his childhood and teenage years around Shropshire. He joined the Artists Rifles in 1915 and he experienced the true horrors of trench warfare in the Somme.
He was sadly killed in action one week before the war officially ended.
Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) (1913 -1995)
Ellis Peters, whose real name was Edith Pargeter is perhaps Shropshire’s best known modern author.
She lived in Telford and is famous for her collection of Medieval whodunits, ‘The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael’. Her novels featuring the detective monk were very popular and there was even a television series made that serialized some of her novels.