We could argue all day about England’s finest contributions to culture: Jane Austen vs. the Brontës, Thackery vs. Dickens, Shakespeare vs. no one (there is only one Shakespeare), afternoon tea vs. fish and chips, Walkers crisps vs. McCoy’s, wellies vs. fascinators. But why choose sides when we can enjoy it all?
And that’s how we feel about books that feature English characters and settings, too. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and we are grateful.
From medieval cathedrals to majestic manor houses, London flats to humble homes on the Yorkshire Moors, England’s structures and the landscapes that surround them are often characters as influential as the people who populate the stories.
There are nobles and peasants and tradespeople. Executives and hackers and relentless detectives (and criminals). There’s Lizzie Bennet and Bridget Jones and Harry Potter and Hercule Poirot and Gandalf and sweet Samwise Gamgee — unforgettable characters in singular settings that could only be in England.
And the history! There’s the Magna Carta and Hundred Years’ War, the Plantagenets (and their pesky War of the Roses), the House of York, House of Lancaster, the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Regency Era and Edwardian Era and Victorian Era, and — bless her heart — Queen Elizabeth II who keeps on keeping on.
The British Isles have been inhabited for approximately 800,000 years. That’s a looooong history in which to place stories — of myth and legend, stranger-than-fiction facts, classic literature, modern masterpieces, and everything in between.
Top image courtesy of Benjamin Elliott/Unsplash.
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