100 Local-Interest Writers And Works
The selective bibliography below when completed will list 100 writers who have produced local-interest works. However, not all their work is listed here even if set locally - only a sample, or works of particular interest. Not included are works where only a single chapter or episode is set locally, such as Compton Mackenzie's Sinister Street [chapter set in Bournemouth], David Nobbs's The Death Of Reginald Perrin [Dorset coast], Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse novel The Way Through The Woods [holiday at Lyme Regis], or Kashuo Ishiguro's The Remains Of The Day [finale on Weymouth pier]. I made an exception for Austen's Persuasion as the Lyme sequence has been so culturally significant. The listing is still a work in progress - not quite up to 100 authors yet, with some of the older items awaiting verification [last update 23-9-12]. It does set out to include a range of genres - contemporary novels, historical sagas, detective stories, published stage-plays and film scripts, children's adventures, pastoral essays, poetry, horror and fantasy - hopefully, something for everyone.


Peter Ackroyd (1949-)
The author is mainly associated with London settings (e.g. Hawskmoor), but also wrote a somewhat satiric SF novel set at a west Dorset scientific facility, where a megalithic tomb has been uncovered, with unsettling results.
First Light (1989)

Kenneth Allsop (1920-73)
The former BBC 'Tonight' anchorman, Fleet Street journalist and author of The Angry Decade (on 1950s literature), became a nature writer, with his final book (before his suicide) on a year in the country around his west Dorset (Powerstock) home. His essays were originally weekly columns for a national newspaper.
In The Country (essays coll. 1972)

Jane Austen (1775-1817)
Her two family holidays at Lyme inspired the most famous single sequence in her novels, which made the Cobb a literary landmark long before John Fowles [qv].
Persuasion (1818) [1969, 1995, 2007 TV versions all part-ph Lyme]

Julian Barnes (1946-)
The award-winning novelist (Flaubert's Parrot) went for an Isle of Wight setting when he satirised the idea of creating a Disneyesque 'England' theme-park there as an escape from a future dystopian society.
England, England (1998)

William Barnes (1801-66)
Barnes was a schoolmaster and linguist who tried in his poems to preserve the old Dorset Dialect, his work serving as an inspiration to his young neighbour, Thomas Hardy.
Poems Of Rural Life (1844)

Peter Benson (1956-)
An ex-Lyme resident, PB wrote a realist novel of an urban youth acquiring a new interest in life when he goes to stay in west Dorset with an elderly socialist aunt dying of cancer, which won the Somerset Maugham Award.
The Other Occupant (1990)

Sven Berlin (1911-99)
The much-admired painter and sculptor had abandoned fiction after being sued by fellow members of the St Ives artistic colony over his 1953 roman-a-clef novel The Dark Monarch. After moving to the New Forest in his horse-drawn caravan and then to a cottage at Higher Gaunts outside Wimborne in 1975, he wrote another novel, a libel-proof one - a mystical fable of encounters between a man, a woman, and a stag in 'the Great Forest in the South'.
Amergin: An Enigma Of The New Forest (1978)

(Sir) John Betjeman (1906-84)
The Poet Laureate became founding chairman of the Bournemouth & District Civic Society after doing a radio essay on the town, and as editor of the famous Shell Guides series, he edited Paul Nash's Dorset, 1936. His local-interest poems include his famous 1932 "Dorset", "The Heart Of Thomas Hardy", and "Youth And Age On The Beaulieu River, Hants".
Collected Poems [various editions]
Trains And Buttered Toast [essays]

"Nicholas Blake" (=C. Day Lewis, 1904-72)
Poet Laureate C. Day Lewis (now buried next to Thomas Hardy) was schooled at Sherborne, and in 1935 used this as a background for a popular detective novel he wrote to raise funds for his Cheltenham college. The author's later residence at Lyme led to his using the area in what became a series of 13 detective novels starring private enquiry agent 'Nigel Strangeways', which he kept going for three decades, 1935-66.
A Question Of Proof (1935)
There's Trouble Brewing (1937)
The Sad Variety (1964)

Enid Blyton (1898-1968)
The author's summer residence at Swanage led to her using the area for her Famous Five stories, with the place names fictionalised but identifiable, eg. 'Kirrin Island' = Brownsea.
Famous Five series, 21 books 1942-63: Five On A Treasure Island etc [film and tv versions partly shot locally]

David Burnett (1946-)
The founder of Dovecote Press in Wimborne has also written several historical novels, including one set at Stonehenge and Avebury in the Neolithic era.
A Priestess Of Henge (1982)

Arthur Cadman (1911-2001)
The Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest from 1959-68 authored a local nature classic.
Dawn, Dusk & Deer (1966)

Tracy Chevalier (1962-)
Dorset-resident TC used her familiarity with her neighbourhood to make the protagonists of her novel Burning Bright a family from the Piddle Valley, who move to London in 1792 next door to the poet William Blake. She followed that up with a biographical novel set in early 19th-C Lyme Regis, narrated by fossil collectors Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot.
Remarkable Creatures (2009)

Agatha Christie (1891-1976)
AC's Miss Marple, heroine of 12 novels, lived at 'St Mary Mead', a village apparently on the Hants-Wilts boundary - all the place names are fictitious. (The 1980s BBC series considered the most authentic adaptation was shot at Nether Wallop [as 'St Mary Mead'] in Hants, in Bournemouth [The Body In The Library], and west Dorset [A Murder Is Announced].)
Murder At The Vicarage (1930)
The Body In The Library (1942)

Douglas Clark (1919-?)
The writer used his own business background in pharmaceuticals as a basis of his 28 'Superintendent Masters' police-procedural novels, one of which is set at 'Chinemouth' and 'Ponde' (read Bournemouth and Poole) involving an undercover investigation into a drugs-related murder possibly involving local police collusion.
Dead Letter (1984)

'Bernard Cornwell' (=Bernard Wiggins, 1944-)
Though best-known for his televised 'Sharpe' novels which got him an OBE, BC has also written a series of novels largely set in the Wessex region in earlier times, from the Neolithic through the Arthurian and Alfredian eras.
The "Warlord Chronicles" trilogy: The Winter King (1995); Enemy Of God (1996); Excalibur (1997)
Stonehenge: A Novel Of 2000 BC (2000)
The "Saxon Stories" series (2004-): The Last Kingdom, 2004; The Pale Horseman, 2005; The Lords of the North, 2006; Sword Song 2007; The Burning Land 2009.

John Creasey (aka "Gordon Ashe" "JJ Marric" etc) (1908-73)
After WWII, Britain's most prolific crime writer (560 books under 20 pen-names) was a Bournemouth resident, and he set at least one book locally. During the great blizzard of '46, hero Patrick Dawlish has to fight a well-armed neo-Nazi gang who have taken over the Dorset village of 'Hurn.'
Here Is Danger [by Creasey writing as "Gordon Ashe"](1946)

'Peter James Davidson'
"Fossil hunter, dinosaur enthusiast, inventor" PJD, a pseudonym for an IT consultant who self-published his illustrated popular-science children's book before having it picked up by a regular publisher, used a time-travel scenario to bring alive the denizens of Dorset's fossil-paradise World Heritage Site, recently following it up with a sequel.
Professor 'P' And The Jurassic Coast (2004)
Professor P And The Jurassic Island (2010)

Juliette de Bairacli Levy (1912-)
The 'Grandmother of Herbal Medicine' lived in the New Forest (in a pink cob cottage at Frogham End) and wrote a 'cult' nonfiction book on the Gypsies, flora and fauna of the Forest, based on her time living there.
Wanderers In The New Forest (1958)[Introduction by Augustus John - sometimes listed as co-author]

Jan de Hartog (1914-2002)
The author, a ship's officer and writer, escaped from Occupied Holland in 1943 to serve on the unarmed tugboats rescuing torpedoed Channel-convoy ships, an experience he characterized as a study in the nature of fear. After the war he lived for a time on Wight and wrote a novel from his war experience, set in "Westport", played in Carol Reed's film version mainly by Weymouth.
The Distant Shore [paperback editions are titled The Key, after the 1958 film based on Book I, "Stella"] (1950)

Bill Douglas (1937-91)
The admired Scots filmmaker whose work is the basis of The Bill Douglas Centre at the U. Of Exeter made a 3-hour realist drama filmed in Dorset and Australia, on the struggle of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834, the script published as a book.
Comrades: A Lanternist's Account Of The Tolpuddle Martyrs And What Became Of Them (1986)(BFI/Skreba 1986)

(Sir) Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
ACD's own favourite of his works was not Sherlock Holmes but an idealistic, almost Tolkienesque, historical romance about a group of 14C adventurers forming up in order to join the war in France. The setting is the New Forest, as the young heroes travel from Beaulieu Abbey to Christchurch Castle to The Solent, and then fight sea rovers off Purbeck. ACD later bought a house in the New Forest, and is buried at Minstead, home of the novel's young hero.
The White Company (1891)

Alfred Duggan (1903-64)
After squandering his inheritance from his stepfather Lord Curzon, AD became an archaeologist, and used his training to introduce realism to the historical novel. In his first attempt, he adopted the political-confessional format with Cerdic, founder of Wessex narrating how he really rose to power as a sort of "Dark Ages Harry Flashman". Another tells the story of Alfred hiding out in the Somerset marshes and darkly plotting his comeback.
Conscience Of The King (1951, Cassell Military Paperbacks 2005)
The King Of Athelney (1961, Methuen pbk 1999)

Gerald Durrell (1925-95)
When not travelling, GD stayed in Bournemouth and wrote some Thurber-style humorous pieces about these times - an old girlfriend, a family outing to Lulworth, a stay at the Royal Bath Hotel, and a maternal intrigue.
"Ursula" in Fillets Of Plaice [sic] (coll. 1972)
"The Picnic" and "The Havoc Of Havelock" in The Picnic & Suchlike Pandemonium (coll. 1979)
"Ludwig" in Marrying Off Mother (coll. 1991)

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
The modernist poet (The Waste Land) Eliot was an American who settled in England and named one of the sections in his famous after a hamlet near Yeovil where his family had roots - East Coker, where he is now buried.
"East Coker" (1940) in Four Quartets (coll. 1943)

J. Meade Falkner (1858-1932)
JMF's classic children's novel about an orphan involved in the dark days of the smuggling era is set mainly at Fleet village by Chesil Bank in West Dorset, White Nothe cliff by Lulworth, and Carisbrooke Castle on the IoW.
Moonfleet (1898)

John Fowles (1926-2005)
The author of The Collector and The Magus moved at Lyme Regis when successful, and the setting inspired his 1960s hit which used the novel form to reflect on modern versus period sensibilities.
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1966) [1980 film part-ph Dorset; film script by Harold Pinter also pub.]

David Garnett (1892-1981)
Garnett was a member of the Bloomsbury set whose visits to the Chaldon Herring literary colony inspired a historical novel, on a sailor who returns to his inn with an African wife, taking its title from the name of the village pub.
The Sailor's Return (1925) [filmed by ITV 1980]

Maggie Gee (1948-)
The Poole-born author returned to live in Bournemouth when she married RL Stevenson biographer Nicholas Rankin and used the seaside resort as a part setting in two novels.
Light Years (1985)
Grace (1988)

William Gilpin (1724-1804)
Vicar of Boldre 1777-1804, WG was an early promoter of the "cult of the picturesque," and authored a hand-crafted 'nature' book on the New Forest, becoming known as "the Gilbert White of the New Forest."
Remarks On Forest Scenery .... Illustrated By The Scenes Of The New-Forest In Hampshire (1781-) [various editions, sometimes titled just 'Forest Scenery' or 'Forest Sketches']

(Sir) William Golding (1911-93)
The Nobel Prize winning author lived most of his life in Wiltshire, and set one of his novels, about an ambitious cleric, at Salisbury Cathedral in the Middle Ages.
The Spire (1964)

Marguerite ("John") Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943)
Born in Bournemouth, the lesbian novelist and poet set her first novel in a seaside resort based on Southbourne, about the burden placed on adult daughters to put caring for an ageing mother ahead of career interests.
The Unlit Lamp (1924; Virago pbk 1981)

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
His 'Wessex Novels' put the region firmly on the literary map of England as "a partly real, partly dream country".Written 1872-97, the first-published versions were mostly magazine serials, often censored, TH restoring the originals for the Wessex Edition.
--The "Wessex Novels" series (Macmillan Wessex Edition 1912-13) [revised ed'ns of Under The Greenwood Tree, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Mayor Of Casterbridge, The Return Of The Native, Tess Of The D'Urbervilles etc.]
Collected Stories (Macmillan 1928; 1988) [47 short stories]
The Works Of Thomas Hardy (Wordsworth's Poetry Library 1994)[reprint of all 968 poems, from various volumes]
More info on Hardy's work onsite here.

James Herbert (1943-)
The bestselling horror writer set one of his novels in the New Forest, depicting it as being charged with magic powers.
The Magic Cottage (1987)

C. Walter Hodges (1909-2004)
An illustrator and author of children’s historical novels, his two novels about King Alfred are regarded as his best, with episodes set in Dorset and in Somerset.
The Namesake (1964)
The Marsh King (1967)

Geoffrey Household (1900-88)
Bristol-born GH lived for a time in Dorset, and set several novels here, including his most famous, about a gentleman vigilante who tries to assassinate Hitler and for political reasons is then unable to turn to the police as British Fascists run him to ground outside Lyme Regis. He also wrote a post-apocalyptic fantasy about British stoicism and enterprise, with a title from Blake's Jerusalem, set at Avebury.
Rogue Male (1939)(US title Man Hunt) [filmed 1941 Hollywood; 1976 telefeature ph Dorset]
Arrows Of Desire (1985)

Linden Howard (19??-
Romance writer LH set one of her novels, an example of the popular Mills &Boon style novel, in 1880 on a fictitious islet off the west Dorset coast.
Enchanted Island (1982)

W.H. Hudson (1841-1922)
Best-known for his jungle romance Green Mansions, the Argentinan-born American ornithologist lived for a time in the New Forest and near the Hants-Wilts boundary, and wrote several books on the region's fading pre-Industrial ways, plus a futuristic novel about Wessex as a post-cataclysm reforested Arcadia.
A Crystal Age (1887) [novel]
Hampshire Days (1903)
A Shepherd's Life: Impressions Of The South Wiltshire Downs (1910)
[essays on country life c1840-1900]

Angela Huth (1938-)
The former BBC presenter's wartime novel about the Women's Land Army is set on a Dorset farm near the fictitious village of 'Hinton Half Moon'.
The Land Girls (1994) [filmed 1998, ph Somerset]

"Francis Iles" (= Anthony Berkeley Cox, 1893-1971)
His cult crime novel, a psychological study of victimhood set in Dorset and Bournemouth, was filmed 1941 by Hitchcock as Suspicion, and in 1987 by Barry Levinson and Jonathan Lynn for ITV, though in both cases the novel's dark ending proved too controversial to film.
Before The Fact (1932)

Kazuo Ishiguro (1954-
The Remains Of The Day (1989)
Japanese-English novelist KI's award-winning novel is narrated as the reminsicence of the hidebound head butler at a Salisbury-area stately home, before and after WWII, as he attempts a sentimental journey ending at Weymouth Pier.

P.D. James (Baroness Phyllis D. James, 1920-)
The author's visits to family in the Purbecks inspired her to use Purbeck's clifftop Clavel Tower in one of her 'Adam Dalgleish' detective novels, and one of her 'Cordelia Gray' novels has a setting based on Brownsea (as 'Courcy Island' on the Dorset coast).
The Black Tower (1975) [ITV 1985 serial ext-ph Purbeck]
The Skull Beneath The Skin (1982)
The Private Patient (2008) [Cdr Dalgleish in Dorset again]

Richard Jefferies (1848-87)
Victorian 'Wiltshire countryman' writer RJ wrote essays and futuristic fiction.
After London, Or Wild England (1885) [futuristic novel]
The Life Of The Fields (1884) [essays]
The Toilers Of The Field (1892) [essays]

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
One of DHL's lesser-known novels is set on Wight, which he wrote following a 1909 holiday there with his mother, and then rewrote while convalescing in Bournemouth in 1912.
The Trespasser (1912)

"John LeCarre" (=David John Moore Cornwell) (1931-)
The author's schooling at Sherborne inspired an early 'George Smiley' novel, where he is invited back to deal with a potential scandal.
A Murder Of Quality (1962) [ITV 1990 prod'n ph Sherborne]

C. Day Lewis (aka "Nicholas Blake"1904-72)
A children's novel about members of a boys school engaging in role-playing 'grown-up' adventures, evidently part-inspired by his schooldays in Sherborne.
The Otterbury Incident (1948)

Alexis Lykiard (1940-)
A Greek poet and translator of French Surrealist classics who settled in southwest England, AL also wrote a novel about a wannabee writer haunted by a tragic affair, with an early-60s Bournemouth setting amidst the then-budding language-schools 'scene'.
The Summer Ghosts (1964)

Ian McEwan (1948-)
The award-winning author of Atonement set his 2007 novel in an (evidently fictitious) large hotel overlooking Chesil Bank beyond Portland, back in 1962 (ie pre-Sexual Revolution). As the blurb puts it, “a newlywed couple sit down to dinner in a Dorset hotel, each anxiously contemplating the wedding night to come.”
On Chesil Beach (2007)

Rosemary Manning (1911-88, also wrote as "Mary Voyle")
As well as adult fiction, RM also wrote children's novels, including one based on the mediaeval Poole-based pirate Harry Paye, and another featuring a Cornish dragon in Weymouth Harbour.
Arripay (1963)
The Dragon In The Harbour (1980)

Captain Marryat ( =Frederick Marryat, 1792-1848)
Though mainly a writer of first adult and then children's stories based on his Naval experience, FM is best remembered for his Cavaliers-vs-Roundheads children's novel set around Sway in the New Forest, and which he wrote while living nearby, at Lymington, and at his brother's home, now Chewton Glen Hotel.
Children Of The New Forest (1847)

(Dame) Ngaio Marsh (1899-1982)
The NZ-born NM based at least one of her 32 'Inspector Alleyne' novels (1934-80) in Dorset, set at a weekend house party for theatrical types, at 'Highfold Manor', cut off by a blizzard.
Death And The Dancing Footman (1942)

Gladys Mitchell (1901-83)
Resident at Corfe Mullen, Dorset from 1961 till her death, a number of this cult author's 'Dame Adela Beatrice LeStrange' series of 66 books written 1929-83, are based around her amateur-sleuth's fictitious New Forest home village of 'Wandles Parva', with stories also often set in neighbouring Dorset.
Uncoffin'd Clay (1980)

(Dame) Iris Murdoch (1919-99)
The late novelist often stayed in Dorset (visiting HG Wells's and Rebecca West's son, novelist Anthony West), and wrote one novel set at a west Dorset manor house, about a civil servant getting caught up in the web of adultery and blackmail he is meant to be investigating.
The Nice And The Good (1968)

Paul Nash (1889-1946)
The famous artist, who died in Boscombe, was commissioned by Shell Guides editor John Betjeman [qv] to produce the Dorset guidebook, and he also produced a spinoff book on Swanage.
The Shell Book Of Dorset (1936)
Swanage, Or Seaside Surrealism (1937)

Ian Ogilvy (1943-)
The boyish 70s TV actor turned children’s author also wrote a satire of modern societal divisions, set in Somerset but clearly inspired by Dorset’s Cerne Giant hill-figure and its controversies.
The Polkerton Giant (1997)

C. Northcote Parkinson (1909-93)
A professor of economics best-known for his Parkinson's Law ("work expands to fill the time available to complete it"), CNP wrote over 50 books on various subjects, including a children's novel set in the New Forest, and a naval-adventure series in the first of which his hero Richard Delancey 'combats the smugglers of Poole.'
Ponies' Plot (1965)
Devil To Pay (1972)

Harold Pinter (1930-2008)
The former actor lived and worked in Bournemouth in the 1950s, and is thought to have used material gathered from staying in local B&Bs in his first major play. He solved the problem of filming Fowles's Lyme-set literary novel The French Lieutenant's Woman via a film-within-a-film framework.
The Birthday Party (1957) [play]
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1980) [published film script ]

Anthony Powell CBE (1905–2000)
The author, who lived for 50 years at a country house outside Frome in east Somerset, was known as the English Proust for his autiobiographical novel-sequences. Powell’s third novel, From A View To A Death, was inspired by Salisbury boyhood recollections, his father being in the army, set on a Wiltshire country estate where the shooting rights are undr dispute.
From A View To A Death (1934)

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963)
The author of lengthy mystical - some say mystifying - novels and literary-philosophical studies grew up partly at Montacute near Yeovil, had various Dorset family connections, and used the area in novels written during the Interwar period.
Wolf Solent (1929)
Glastonbury (1932)
Weymouth Sands (1934)
Maiden Castle (1937)

Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939)
Essayist, lecturer, brother of JC Powys [above] and Theodore [below], who published over 30 books, including literary and philosophical studies.
Dorset Essays (1935)

Theodore Francis Powys (1875-1953)
The reclusive author of pessimist black-comedy fables -- magic-realist novels and short stories -- used the country villages of Chaldon and Mappowder near where he lived as settings. His most famous work is a novel where God and his archangel Michael arrive at the village of 'Folly Down' in the guise of a travelling wine merchant and his assistant.
Mr Weston's Good Wine (1927)

Christopher Priest (1943-)
Wiltshire-based CP, a mainly SF author, wrote a pair of works with a local setting. One has initially has a 'think-tank' under Maiden Castle being taken over by government in 1983 when they 'project' a model future for test-subjects to try out 150 years ahead in 2137 AD, when the area has been transformed into a Soviet-bloc island tourist-state. The other is a nuclear conspiracy thriller set in modern Wiltshire.
A Dream Of Wessex (US: The Perfect Lover) (1977)
The Quiet Woman (1990)

(Sir) Terence Rattigan (1911-77)
TR often stayed in Bournemouth, leading to several plays set in or near the town, most famously a pair of linked playlets set in a Bournemouth guesthouse, plus his final work, on a 1930s murder scandal, the Rattenbury case.
Separate Tables (1955) [adapted for film 1958 and ITV 1982]
Cause Celebre (1978) [2-act play, Anglia TV 1987]

Keith Roberts (1935-2000)
KR has been called “the Thomas Hardy of science fiction", one encyclopedia describing his work as 'permeated with a melancholic, rain-drenched, sometimes enchanted English landscape.' Using sets of linked stories, his work is set in a post-apocalyptic Wessex. Chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of his 99 Novels selections, as 'a striking work of the imagination,' his Pavane is an "alternative history" story, set at 'Durnovaria' in a still-Catholic England of 1968.
Pavane (coll. 1966)
The Chalk Giants (coll. 1974)

'Mark Ronson' (=Marc Alexander, 1929- )
The NZ-born author was the friend and biographer of the Church of England's chief exorcist, who wrote a 1969 book on Chideock, and MR used his involvement as background for a series of ghost stories, including a novel based on a real Dorset location (Lytchett Matravers) and associated legends.
Whispering Corner: A Narration (1989)

'Edward Rutherfurd' (=Francis Edward Wintle) (1948-)
Salisbury-born ER, the author of massive eon-spanning family sagas, set his first opus in Salisbury and the Avon Valley, and another in the New Forest.
Sarum (1986)
The Forest (2000)

Anthony Shaffer (1926-2001)
The playwright's best-known work is a twist-in-the-tail murder mystery set at "Cloak Manor" outside Salisbury.
Sleuth (1970) [play filmed 1972 ext-ph Dorset, and 2007]

Neville Shute (= Neville Shute Norway, 1899-1960)
The aviation designer turned novelist's favourite locale was Australia (as in his On The Beach), but also drew on his 1940s experience with establishments at Christchurch and in the New Forest. This sad tale of one of those that lost their way in wartime has a central flashback set in the Lymington-Beaulieu area around the Navy's shore station at Exbury House, and inspired by a still-unsolved aviation mystery.
Requiem For A Wren (1955, US title The Breaking Wave)

Frederick E Smith (1922-)
Bournemouth-resident since 1980, and best known for his 633 Squadron and sequels, South African born FES also wrote an adult romance set in the Purbecks.
The Wider Sea Of Love (1969)

Caroline Stickland (1955-)
Bridport resident adult-literacy tutor CS's series of historical novels begun with The Standing Hills, set in 1860s Dorset, have a background in early Victorian-era local history, such as the 1830s agricultural riots in A House Of Clay.
The Standing Hills 1986)
A House Of Clay (1988)
The Darkness Of Corn (1990)
An Ancient Hope (1993)
The Darkening Leaf (1995)

Julia Strachey (1901-1979)
Lytton Strachey's niece, JS was one of the Bloomsbury literary set, the pair having stayed in the area at a friend’s house on the edge of the New Forest. Her two novellas are not well-known, but admired for their deft social observation and wit à la Jane Austen. Set somewhere on the Dorset coast, the 1932 Cheerful Weather For The Wedding has the bride needing a bottle of rum as she contemplates her imminent wedding , and the more vaguely set 1951 An Integrated Man, originally titled The Man On The Pier, concerns the old-fashioned hero's dilemma over the prospect of an affair with a friend's wife.
Cheerful Weather For The Wedding / An Integrated Man [1932; 1978 Penguin pbk; Cheerful Weather republished 2009 by Persephone Modern Classics]

Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92)
This author overcame the handicap of a crippling disease to became a major writer of historical novels for both children and adults, set in every era from the prehistoric on, including one [classed as an adult novel - perhaps YA or Young Adult might be better] about Elizabeth I's lady-in-waiting Bess Throckmorton, who secretly married Sir Walter Raleigh, the pair taking up residence at Sherborne Castle, he becoming MP for Dorset before losing all when the Queen died. Sketch-maps in her 4 YA novels set at the onset of the Dark Ages show how the stories range across the entire Roman province, including its last survival, the wealthy Romano-British "villa" society that will become part of the new Saxon kingdom of Wessex.
Lady In Waiting (1957)
The Lantern Bearers (1959)

Emma Tennant (1937-)
Her original family home being Wilsford Manor on the Avon, ET sometimes draws on local material. Queen Of Stones has a group of schoolgirls on a west Dorset outing disappearing a la Picnic At Hanging Rock, while her Tess, set in the 1950s, is a feminist reworking of Hardy's Tess Of The d'Urbervilles as part of a larger canvas in which Hardy himself appears.
Queen Of Stones (1982)
Tess (1993)

Paul Theroux (1941-)
American travel writer (Kingdom By The Sea) and novelist (Mosquito Coast) also wrote a Dorset-set novel. Here, an anthropologist and his wife discover the natives are no more friendly than they were in Uganda, and their rented house in West Dorset seems haunted by a commanding female spectre.
The Black House (1974)

Flora Thompson (1876-1947)
The writer on English village life (famous for her recently televised Lark Rise To Candleford trilogy, an autobiographically-based novelisation of late-Victorian social life in a pair of country villages) began her writing career while a Bournemouth resident 1903-16, contributing magazine essays on the New Forest and Wight.
'The Peverel Papers: A Yearbook Of The Countryside' pub. in A Country Calendar (coll. 1979)

"Nicola Thorne" (=Rosemary Ellerbeck aka 'Katherine Yorke' etc, 193?-)
The now Devon-resident author set a 6-novel romantic historical saga in a mid-Dorset village 1880s-1950s while living there in the 1990s, and despite a serious car accident has begun another such, a trilogy set 1920s-50s. In between these, she wrote a a work of "faction" recreating the life of a woman a teenage Thomas Hardy watched hang for murdering her husband, eventually inspiring his Tess.
The 'People Of This Parish' series, 1991-2000: The People Of This Parish, The Rector's Daughter, In This Quiet Earth, Past Love, A Time Of Hope, In Time Of War.
The 'Broken Bough' Saga, 2000-: The Broken Bough, The Blackbird's Song, The Water's Edge.
My Name Is Martha Brown (2000) [fact-based, set 1856 Dorset]

Michael Tod (1937-)
The former Dorset resident initially self-published the first of his Watership Down style "squirrel wars" books, now collected as a trilogy, which are set on Brownsea Island and Purbeck's Blue Pool.
The 'Woodstock Saga': The Silver Tide (1993); The Second Wave (1994); The Golden Flight (1995); trilogy also pub. as The Dorset Squirrels (1999)

Louise Tondeur (1972-)
Born in Poole and raised in Bournemouth, scriptwriting lecturer LT named her Bournemouth-set 2003 novel after a now-vanished Boscombe hotel, and based a second novel, called a mix of 'homespun gothic and seaside camp' (Independent), on local sites like Portland and Moreton.
The Water's Edge (2003)
The Haven Home For Delinquent Girls (2005)

Ben Travers (1886-1980)
The founder of the 'Aldwych school' of slapstick sex romps, BT lived in Somerset in the 1920s, his best-known hit, Rookery Nook, being named after a Somerset house. His first play was published as a novel, about a couple booked, due to mistaken identity, into a single room at the inn in “Combe Puddy, Dorsetshire.”
The Dippers (1920) [novel, stage and radio play]

(Sir) Frederick Treves (1853-1923)
Though best-known today as the doctor played by Anthony Hopkins in The Elephant Man, the Dorchester-born Treves was the first president of the Society of Dorset Men and wrote an early guidebook.
Highways And Byways In Dorset (1906)

William Trevor (= William Trevor Cox, 1928-)
After moving to Devon, the multiple award winning Irish author set one of his novels in a run-down west Dorset seaside town, about a lad on a Council estate who observes and blackmails the hypocritical adults around him, which won the Whitbread Best Novel prize, was adapted by WT for BBC-TV, and has been republished by Penguin Modern Classics.
The Children Of Dynmouth (1976) [also BBC-TV 1987 version]

Lynne Truss (1955-)
Before she became a household name with her grammar book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, LT wrote a humorous novel about the Isle of Wight's Victorian-era literary scene which formed around Tennyon's home on west Wight.
Tennyson's Gift (1996)

H.A. Vachell (1861-1955)
After returning to England in 1900, HAV settled in a large country house near Bath where he wrote over 50 books, including a number set in Dorset and the New Forest.
The Other Side (1910) [set Sherborne]
Quinney's (1914; repr 1969) [part-set Weymouth]
Leaves From Arcady (1924) [New Forest]

Peter Vansittart (1920-2008)
Though acclaimed by some critics as "England’s greatest living historical novelist," PV himself said his work was not popular "due to my obsession with language and speculation," but he has continued to offer an anti-romantic re-interpretation of legends, including Arthurian Britain in several novels.
Camelot (1978)
367 (1984)

Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978)
STW was a prolific writer (7 novels and 140 short stories for The New Yorker) who lived much of her life in west Dorset, together with Valentine Ackland as part of the literary circle (of TF Powys et al) at Chaldon Herring and later at Maiden Newton.
Dorset Stories (2006)

Alec Waugh (1898-1981)
The older brother of Evelyn, AW based his first novel, about what lay behind some of those close schoolboy friendships, on his own time at Sherborne, where it was banned.
The Loom Of Youth (1918)

Evelyn Waugh (1903-66)
EW wrote his first novel staying outside Wimborne in 1927, and his prewar and WWII Dorset stays no doubt helped inspire his most famous novel, though his Brideshead Manor is put somewhere in Wiltshire.
Brideshead Revisited (1944, revd 1959)[ITV 1981; filmed 2007]

Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977)
The prolific writer of exotic adventure-fantasy is best remembered for his horror novels of the occult, one being set in the New Forest where he lived and wrote 18 of his books. DW used the Georgian house that was his home 1944- as the hero's home in his Napoleonic-era series of 12 novels covering the 1783-1815 career of dashing anti-Republican secret agent Roger Brook.
The Launching Of Roger Brook (1947)[ first in series]
The Ka Of Gifford Hillary (1956)

Ralph Wightman (1901-71)
Countryman broadcaster and writer from Piddletrenthide, whose fame rested on presenting 'the Dorset dialect to the world.' He did not however write his books in dialect.
The Seasons (1954)
Rural Rides (1957)

PG Wodehouse (1881-1975)
The young PGW stayed with aristocratic friends near Lyme Regis, set his first novel locally, and in 1934 set parts of a Jeeves & Wooster novel at the resort of 'Chuffnell Regis' in Dorset. (The 1992 ITV series shot these scenes in East Devon.) His final Jeeves novel is set in Somerset, at the Dorset-sounding village of "Maiden Eggesford" near "Bridmouth-On-Sea."
Love Among The Chickens (1906, revd 1920)
Thank You, Jeeves (1934)
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (1974)

"Dornford Yates" (=Cecil William Mercer, 1885-1960)
In his 1919-36 "Berry, Adele & Co." series, DY, an expatriate ex-London barrister, wrote about the smart set with country houses to whom cars had offered a new mobility. His protagonists 'Berry' Pleydell and wife Adele enjoy life at "White Ladies" house in the New Forest - a place that had impressed DY during a student caravanning holiday. DY used his legal experience to depict criminal 'low life' and his smart-set actor friends for 'high life' characters.
Berry & Co. (coll. 1919)
And Berry Came Too (coll. 1936)


Literary Anthologies
These are useful for accessing shorter items such as poems or reading samples from longer works otherwise hard to obtain.

The Dorset Bedside Anthology
Editor Margaret Goldsworthy, Arundel Press 1951

The Isle Of Wight Bedside Anthology
Editor Hugh Noyes, IOW County Press 1951

Poet's England series: Dorset
Editor Guy Stapleton, Brentham Press 1996

Wessex: A Literary Celebration
Editor Desmond Hawkins, National Trust 1991

























































 
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