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Talking Location With author Audla English – North East England

14th February 2020

Audla EnglishTalkingLocationWith… Audla English, author of The Last Village.

Location plays such an integral part to the story in The Last Village that it exists almost as an additional character. I chose the location of the North East of England as the setting for the novel as I am from the North East and grew up only ten minutes away from the coastal setting. I have always been fascinated by the fact that an entire village used to exist on the sparse empty piece of land next to Souter Lighthouse and I often wondered whatever became of the people who used to live here and what it must have been like to live there. I find it fascinating that in a stretch of less than one mile of South Tyneside coastline there is a site of a demolished village, the world’s first electric lighthouse, a hidden cave pub, the incomparable Marsden Rock, as well as a beautiful sandy beach and the North Sea.

I feel very lucky that I am blessed to have these on my doorstep and visitors to the region often fall in love with the unspoilt beauty of the area paired with its industrial history of both mining and shipbuilding, two industries which have now sadly been lost to time.

The North East setting shows how the area has changed dramatically within the last few generations, this is reflected in the narration of the story which is between Lillian, the grandmother and Anna, the granddaughter. The setting changing to London and Marbella for Anna the granddaughter, is to act as a contrast to the very different lifestyle that she has to that of her grandmother in the old village, but at the same time to highlight that both women experience the same feelings of love albeit in different eras.

Audla English

Marsden Rock with its full arch before collapse

Much of my research of the area came from growing up here and is in my blood whereas the historical aspects and recollections come from talking to those from past generations who also lived in the area.  I have tried to evoke my love of the region in my writing and I am extremely proud of my Northern heritage, having been born in Sunderland, completing my studies at Newcastle University and to this day I still live in South Tyneside.

Marsden Grotto overlooking Marsden Rock as it appears today

I want to raise awareness of South Tyneside and the wider North East, as a place to visit and the gems that is has to offer. I think a lot of people will not realise that a community once existed on the open piece of land next to Souter Lighthouse and I think that this should be celebrated along with the area’s natural beauty and heritage.

Locations of Interest and top tips:

Marsden Village, South Tyneside, England. A close-knit community once existed in this Northern mining coastal village which is located at the head of a cliff and faces the North Sea. Times were difficult but even in hardship, there is also love. In modern day, there is no trace that a village existed here, apart from the odd piece of brick hidden amongst long grasses.

Audla English

Souter Lighthouse and the Leas- the field to the side of the lighthouse is the site of the now demolished village of Old Marsden

Souter Lighthouse, South Tyneside, England. Souter Lighthouse was the first electric lighthouse in the world and is owned by the National Trust. Pay a visit to the nearby Hill Head Tea Rooms- I can recommend the cherry scones!

Ocean Road, South Tyneside, England. A road full of restaurants! This road includes the UK award winning Colman’s Fish and Chip restaurant, a mini version of the curry mile with 15 Indian restaurants and some other international cuisines. A culinary delight.

The Word, South Tyneside, England. The National Centre for the Written word is a state-of-the-art cultural venue which is home to 70,000 books including ‘The Last Village’. The idea for the façade of The Word is based on the fanning out of pages in a book.

Audla English

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO AUDLA FOR SHARING SUCH WONDERFUL THOUGHTS AND TIPS!

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