Suffolk as a Setting in Literature

Suffolk as a Setting in Literature

Many of us will be aware of the Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis movie ‘Yesterday’ recently shot in Suffolk, but did you know the county has a long history of featuring in novels too?
Here’s a selection:

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his mother and their kindly housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. They call him Davy.
When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. To get him out of the way, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a house built in an upturned boat on the beach,
Charles Dickens himself was a frequent traveller to Suffolk and toured the county giving recitals of his work.

Frederick Forsyth, The Fourth Protocol

Based around the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which in the novel contained four secret protocols. The story revolves around a plan: where, in contravention of the Fourth Protocol, the component parts of a small atomic device are to be smuggled into the United Kingdom, to be assembled and exploded near RAF Bentwaters a week before the general election.

P D James, Unnatural Causes

This features James’ detective Adam Dalgleish, who is visiting his aunt in Suffolk and finds himself embroiled involved in an investigation after a local novelist’s body is found in his boat with both his hands cut off.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians

It was to Suffolk, in the fictional “Hell Hall”, the ancestral home of the de Vil family, that arch villain Cruella de Vil took the stolen Hundred and One Dalmatians of Dodie Smith’s story and the Suffolk village Bradfield St George, south of Bury St Edmunds, appears in six of the Dr Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series by Scottish crime writer, Val McDermid.

Best known for his No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, Alexander McCall-Smith, set his novel La’s Orchestra Saves the World in rural Suffolk and George Orwell set his 1935 novel ‘The Clergyman’s Daughter’ in the fictional Suffolk village Knype Hill.

Famously, Arthur Ransome’s children’s books, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, Coot Club and Secret Water take place in the area around Pin Mill.

More up-to-date

Finally, a newer Suffolk author to watch is C P Sennett, co-owner of Ipswich-based IT company PC Futures, whose latest works are set in Suffolk. The Suffolk Sentinel Series, a series of novellas whose main character, Eddie Holt, is the Suffolk Sentinel, whose job is to protect ordinary people from the machinations of supernatural beings.