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In search of traditional literary Britain

Monday 10 June 2019

What do you think of when the words 'traditional Britain’ are mentioned? In reading terms, this makes me think of what life used to be like, in the days before mobile phones and all the other aspects of modern living

It also makes me want to pick up a book that is set in a very traditional setting - cosy cottages, country garden or even close to a inherently British landmark....

So, a crop of the best books to introduce you to Traditional Britain literary style. When modern life gets a bit too much, who doesn’t dream of living in the countryside, in a warm cosy cottage, or finding a place miles from anywhere to escape the city rush? Veronica Henry knows of a lovely place deep in the heart of England’s Cotswolds...

Cotswolds charm

Book: The Forever House by Veronica Henry

Trail: The Cotswolds

The book is set in fictional Peasebrook so you will have to wander around villages such as Bourton on the Water and Castle Combe which are some of the prettiest villages in the area - perfect for imagining Veronica’s setting. Take time to search for your Forever House of course -imagine finding the perfect place to escape the world for a while.Travelling around the twisting roads and country lanes is also a reminder of less chaotic times:

Row of quaint stone cottages in the Cotswold village of Bibury, Bibury, Gloucestershire, England

“The road is no wider than a tractor...the branches on the trees meet overhead, like a guard of honour and the grass grows down the middle of the tarmac, leaving a trail for you to follow….”

Yorkshire calling

Book: Frances Brody and Julia Chapman

Trail - North York Moors

Yorkshire has always been a place where you can escape in to more traditional surroundings. The adventures of Kate Shackleton are a great way to explore what Yorkshire has to offer..


Harrogate is the scene of a very troublesome mystery in A Medal for Murder which is centered around the very historical local theatre with ‘scenes’ being played out in the local parks and antique shops. It’s also the setting for a mystery of its own - Agatha Christie escaped to the Old Swan Hotel for 11 days in 1926.

And what could be more traditional than a local library? Death of An Avid Reader, set in Leeds, is so vivid, you can smell the ink stamp on that library card....Leeds Library plays a starring role!

Yorkshire is dotted with all kinds of tradition: small villages, farms, rolling fields and little tea shops in the countryside but have you ever visited the Dales Dating Agency? Or the Dales Detective Agency? Probably not as they are the fictional creations of author Julia Chapman in A Date with Death.  She weaves the warmth and humour of the Yorkshire Dales by creating fictional Bruncliffe to incorporate the best of the area. There’s plenty mentions of Yorkshire tea and the local delicacy they call the Fat Rascal!

And then there’s the dark side of history and tradition - stories swept under the carpet or little understood.

There was a time when it was traditional to make homemade potions if you were sick and pick berries to improve your cooking. Two books in particular capture this mood of a simpler but altogether more dangerous time when women back in the 1650s used such things, and were often accused of witchcraft  because of it.

If a woman made medicinal potions, or gave birth to a sick child or even if a man simply suspected them for no reason whatsoever, they could be persecuted or worse.

In Widdershins, St Andrews Church in Newcastle is where the women  were buried.


The Witchfinder’s Sister details the terrible events of 1645 and the story of Matthew Hopkins, a real life witchhunter who lived in Manningtree, Essex. For the most well known story of witchery goings on, Fever of the Blood,  which centres on the Pendle Hill story shows another chillingly good place to visit!

With all kinds of travel, both literary and otherwise, there’s nothing more traditional than taking a plane and heading off to a new and exciting destination is there? The Wild Air,  tells the story of the birth of aviation through the eyes of a young girl, when women were not expected to work let alone fly planes. Based on true facts, the town of Cleethorpes has a very interesting story to tell - read it on the beach where Dolly dreams of changing tradition for ever...

Visit Britain and see where past and present mix - with a book, you can preserve those memories on the written page for ever.


The Booktrail is an award-winning Literary Travel Agency, where you can book your next literary adventure and read your way around the world. Find maps, travel guides, reviews photo galleries and much more to help inspire and enrich your next journey. Follow @thebooktrailer and see more modern booktrails.

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