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.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.