Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Five great books set in Yorkshire
13th November 2018
Yorkshire is the latest destination in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Yorkshire.
Yorkshire is a historic county in the north of England, and the largest in the UK. It has a rich culture of its own, whether industrial, agricultural or literary, and vast stretches of open countryside in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. Its history tells of invasion and occupation by Romans, Celts, Vikings, and Normans; war with westerly Lancastrian neighbours; a specialism in textiles before and during the Industrial Revolution; a vibrant mining industry that ended in violence and recrimination. And in culinary terms Yorkshire has brought us Wensleydale cheese, Yorkshire pudding on a Sunday, Parkin cake and much more.
Let’s take a look at five great books set very firmly in Yorkshire, to transport readers to this proud and historic county, whether from the comfort of your own armchair at home or whilst you’re exploring God’s own country, as locals modestly claim it to be.
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.
The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely North Yorkshire moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
Fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, to the young James Herriot 1930s Yorkshire seems to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But from his erratic new colleagues, brothers Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, to incomprehensible farmers, herds of semi-feral cattle, a pig called Nugent and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo, James finds he is on a learning curve as steep as the hills around him. And when he meets Helen, the beautiful daughter of a local farmer, all the training and experience in the world can’t help him . . .
Since they were first published, James Herriot’s memoirs have sold millions of copies and entranced generations of animal lovers. Charming, funny and touching, All Creatures Great and Small is a heart-warming story of determination, love and companionship from one of Britain’s best-loved authors.
The delightful tale of a young couple who in the late 1970s, on impulse, became the new landlords of the most remote, bleak and lonely pub – The Tan Hill Inn – located in the bleak landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.
Having seen an article in the newspaper about the pub’s search for a new manager, they arrived just three weeks later as the new landlords of the The Tan Hill Inn. It is a wild, wind-swept place, set alone in a sea of peat bog and heather moorland that stretches unbroken as far as the eye can see. With only sheep and grouse for company, their closest neighbour was four miles away and the nearest town twelve. They had no experience of licensed trade or running a pub, no knowledge of farming and a complete inability to understand the dialect of the sheep farmers who were their local customers.
Eager, well-meaning, but in over their heads, our two heroes embarked on a disaster-strewn career that somehow also turned into a lifelong love affair with the Dales.
‘I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine’.
Jessica Vye’s ‘violent experience’ colours her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her – a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica has been told that she is ‘beyond all possible doubt’, a born writer.
With her inability to conform, her absolute compulsion to tell the truth and her dedication to accurately noting her experiences, she knows this anyway. But what she doesn’t know is that the experiences that sustain and enrich her burgeoning talent will one day lead to a new – and entirely unexpected – reality.
When Sarah Burton returns to her hometown as headmistress she is full of ambition, determined to create a great school and to inspire her girls to take all they can from life. But in the aftermath of the First World War, the country is in depression and ideals are hard won. Lydia Holly, the scholarship girl from the shacks, is the most brilliant student Sarah has ever taught, but when her mother’s health fails, her education must be sacrificed – there is nobody else to care for the children.
Robert Carne of Maythorpe Hall stands for everything Sarah despises: his family has farmed the South Riding for generations, their position uncontested. Yet Sarah cannot help being drawn to this proud, haunted – and almost ruined – man.
South Riding is a rich, panoramic novel, bringing vividly to life a rural community on the brink of change.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Which titles would you add to this list? Any you would like to add to our database? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below, and you can buy any of these books through TripFiction by clicking on the link on any book page.
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