I am very lucky to live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty called the Surrey Hills. I am an in-comer to this area, but having now lived here for several years I definitely feel like this is home. Despite its reputation as serious commuter-belt-land, Surrey is one of the most wooded counties in Britain. Lodged between the North and South Downs those of us who live in this part of Surrey are fortunate enough to enjoy the woodland, ancient heathland and commons that haven’t changed in generations.
I absolutely adore these outdoor areas and appreciate the efforts and commitment of organisations such as The National Trust, Natural England and The Surrey Hills Board to maintain and keep them open to people like me.
I recently read a quote by a writer who said “place has such a huge influence on writers” and it got me thinking. Places like the Surrey Hills are inspiring to artists in all forms of media. Maybe not as much as the Yorkshire Moors and Dales, the Lake District or the Cornish coast, but still beautiful enough to get some creative juices flowing.
As part of my blog I’ve decided to start a little feature looking at writers who were or are from here, lived here at some point or set their works of fiction nearby. By here I mean within half an hour of where I live, which takes in most of the Surrey Hills and a bit of the South Downs (the UK’s newest national park).
Having done some research I have put together a list of writers born or who lived in this area. It’s a short list at the moment and only includes one living writer but is quite interesting and varied. Here is a flavour:
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle built a home in Hindhead where he lived for 10 years.
- Aldous Huxley was born and partly educated in Godalming. His ashes are interred in the village of Compton nearby.
- HG Wells spent much of his childhood in Midhurst
- Jane Austen lived in Chawton near Alton
- Louis de Bernières grew up in the village of Hambledon
- Flora Thompson lived and worked as a Post Mistress in a village near to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s house
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson had a home on Blackdown Hill near Haslemere where he lived during his years as Poet Laureate
- Lewis Carroll owned a house in Guildford for over 30 years
- Edward Thomas lived in Steep before the First World War
I might not post about everyone on the list but my idea is to write a piece about the writer and over the following weeks review a couple of their works and discover how their surroundings have influenced their writing, if at all.
I’m going to start with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and hope to write an initial post about him and his famous home, Undershaw sometime later this week.
I’ve added a map so you can see the places I will be talking about and follow my little journey!
Watch this space!
(pics my own)