From the bleak, wind-swept moors echoing to the sounds of “Heathcliffe!”, to the Old Swan Hotel in the spa town of Harrogate, Yorkshire abounds with literary heritage. If you’re fascinated by authors who hail from ‘God’s own county’, or you’d like to explore the settings from famous novels, Harrogate is the ideal spot for your next short break in the UK.
The disappearance of crime novelist Agatha Christie is well known, although why she went missing for 11 days is still subject to conjecture. We know she left her home on 3rd December 1926, and that she was found at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel (as the Old Swan Hotel was known) in Harrogate 11 days later. Opinions vary as to why she disappeared. Was it because her husband was having an affair and wanted a divorce? Was it because she suffered from depression? Or was it simply a sensational way to sell more books? The compelling mystery is one reason why Harrogate hosts the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in July each year.
The Yorkshire village of Haworth was home to the Brontës from 1820 to 1861. The Haworth Parsonage (now known as the Brontë Parsonage Museum) was where Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote some of their best-loved works, including Wuthering Heights, which was set on the nearby moors. These three women, daughters of a clergyman, wrote some of the most dramatic novels that are still enjoyed today. Living such modest lives, the powerful imagery they imagined makes their accomplishments even more astounding.
Who isn’t acquainted with the endearing James Herriott novels, or the television series All Creatures Great and Small? These charming tales involving vets James, Siegfried and Tristan were set in Thirsk, where you can visit the house and surgery, and be transported back to the 1940s. Even the original Austin 7 car is on display.
I vant to drink your blood
No prizes for guessing who said those chilling words. Part of Bram Stoker’s horrific tale of Dracula was set in Whitby, where the ship he was travelling on ran aground on its way to England. Dracula then took up residence in Whitby Abbey, originally a 7th century Christian monastery, and you can visit the atmospheric ruins overlooking the sea.
The county of Yorkshire has inspired a host of great authors, with its outstanding landscape and quaint villages. Whatever your literary taste, you’ll find a connection here.