6 of the greatest literary heroes from Northern England

Shibden Estate

With its brooding moors, towering cliffs and mirror-like lakes, it’s no surprise that the North of England has reared more than its fair share of world-famous wordsmiths. From Lewis Carroll to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wordsworth to Tolkien, some of England’s greatest writers have drawn inspiration from these fabled lands.

In 2016 there will be celebrations for Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday and Beatrix Potter’s 150th, while the landscapes that inspired them are as beautiful and timeless as ever.

There’s never been a better time to step into the pages of your favourite book.

1. Roam the world of the famous Brontë sisters

Bronte Parsonage Museum

The brooding moors and hulking houses that haunt the pages of the Brontë sisters’ novels are alive and well in Yorkshire. Visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum to see the sisters’ family home and the actual table where Charlotte sat and wrote Jane Eyre. The museum is celebrating Charlotte’s 200th birthday with a variety of special events including a new exhibition by the world-renowned writer Tracy Chevalier called ‘I Shall Go Off Like a Bombshell’. Visit the nearby Brontë Waterfalls and the Brontë Bridge, the sisters' favourite places in the village of Haworth where they grew up, then head to Birstall to discover ‘Shirley Country’ and the places that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s novel Shirley.

Find out more about the Brontë sisters

2. Go to Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday party

Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm

2016 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the children’s book author Beatrix Potter so head to the Lake District to see the places that inspired her and join the celebrations. There will be a children’s literary festival at Wray Castle, a brand new guide to tell the story of her life, story telling events and a special birthday party on 28 July. Visit Hill Top, Potter’s home, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, which hosts a unique, changing exhibition of her delightful artworks. Then venture out to the beautiful and easily accessible Tarn Hows for a walk, or to Wray Castle where Potter holidayed as a teenager.

Find out more about Beatrix Potter

3. Grin like the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire

Alice in wonderland afternoon tea

Author Lewis Carroll is one of Cheshire’s most famous sons. Don’t miss Daresbury Church where Carroll’s father, Reverend Charles Dodgson, installed magnificent stained glass windows depicting scenes from Alice in Wonderland. The nearby Lewis Carroll Centre tells stories of the author’s family and life in the area. Then enjoy an afternoon tea fit for a Mad Hatter at the award-winning Davenports Tea Room, which is themed on Carroll’s famous book. Don’t forget to have lots of cream – apparently the Cheshire Cat grinned so much because the county’s dairy farms are overflowing with the stuff!

Find out more about Lewis Carroll

4. Wander lonely as a cloud through Wordsworth's home

Dove Cottage

William Wordsworth wrote the most famous and best-loved of his poems, including I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (or Daffodils) while living in Dove Cottage from 1799 to 1808. Visit the cottage, in the cute village of Grasmere, and find out how the beautiful Lake District landscape inspired him. Go on a guided tour and hear about the Wordsworth family’s daily life and entertaining stories about their famous visitors. Entry includes a visit to the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery.

Find out more about William Wordsworth

5. Investigate the geographical centre of England, Middle Earth

Dunsop Bridge

England’s exact geographic centre couldn’t be quainter: the tiny village of Dunsop Bridge with its teashop, riverside ducks and stunning fell views. And nearby Stonyhurst College has some impressive literary connections. Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went to school here and depicted the area in The Hound of the Baskervilles. JRR Tolkien found inspiration in these landscapes for Middle Earth in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when visiting his son at the college; you can follow the JRR Tolkien Trail around Stonyhurst and its surrounds. For a literary break with a twist, hop across to the North York Moors and Baggins yourself a room at Shire House, a cottage straight out of the pages of The Hobbit.

Find out more about Middle Earth

6. Peel back the poetic layers of Ted Hughes’ Calderdale

Gibson Mill

For centuries the Calder Valley was a wilderness, a notorious refuge for criminals, and the final British Celtic kingdom to fall to the Angles. In the early 1800s it became the cradle of the Industrial Revolution with its magnificent textile mills. And then the area’s captivating landscape of sweeping moors, dramatic hills and winding canals became home to Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. Some of Hughes’ earliest poems, including The Thought Fox, were inspired by his life here. He would have watched in awe as the region changed rapidly in the 20th century. Today this renowned vibrant and creative part of Northern England it is still inspiring locals and visitors.

Find out more about Ted Hughes’ Calderdale


Customer survey …

VisitEngland would like to invite you to take part in a short survey about our website.

It should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Please click here to be taken to the survey


To add items to favourites …

… you need to be logged in.

If you already have an account, log in.

Or register a

Access your account

Enter your e-mail address or username.
Enter the password that accompanies your e-mail.
Forgot your password? Recover your account
Don't have an account? Register an account