Dorset is the birthplace of many a famous author and has been the county which has cured writers block for many more of the country’s finest writers. It seems fitting, therefore that a taste of literature in some form or another would be the perfect accompaniment to any country cottage retreat. Some of our favourite authors with a connection to Dorset are Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.
Jane Austen arrived in Lyme in the summer of 1804 and remained here with her parents after her sister Cassandra and Brother Henry moved to Weymouth. Jane Austen would write in her letters to Cassandra, all the things that she had seen and done in the town including walking on the Cobb and dancing in the Assembly Rooms. Her last novel ‘Persuasion’ was part set in Lyme Regis and in the book, in chapters 11 and 14, the characters describe the holiday resort when it is out of season.
Thomas Hardy, internationally renowned poet and novelist, famously spent most of his life in Dorset and used the setting for his famous novels including ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’.
Hardy’s Cottage, near Dorchester is now owned by the National Trust and is a lovely place to visit if you are staying in a holiday cottage in and around Weymouth or Osmington. The rooms in the cottage, from the cosy parlour to Granny’s Kitchen are as they would have been whilst Hardy lived there, looking out at the stunning English countryside and writing his great novels such as ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’.
Enid Blyton stayed in Purbeck regularly and some of her best work was inspired by the area. There is a shop ‘Ginger Pop’ in the pretty village of Corfe which has been entirely devoted to Enid Blyton’s writing.
Enid Blyton used the Purbeck countryside as the setting for the Famous Five stories with the five children arriving home from boarding school for the holidays straight off the steam train at Corfe Castle.
Dorset’s Literary Festivals 2017
Dorset proudly hosts some of the best festivals in the country and when it comes to Literary Festivals, the county simply has some of the best in the world. For some literary infusion into your cosy countryside cottage break, here is a taster of the literary festivals that you can attend. If you are staying in one of our beautiful Dorset cottages around the time of any of these festivals, then please add one to your itinerary.
Sherborne Literary Festival
11th to 15th October 2017
The Sherborne Literary Festival is wonderful for all book lovers and anyone with a creative streak! The festival includes author talks, writing talks and many more wonderful events during the 5 days of festivities.
So far, the line-up includes Jonathan Aitken (penal reformist), Sir Jeremy Greenstock (ex-diplomat in Iraq and UN), Ysenda Maxtone Graham (columnist and journalist), Rory McLean (travel writer) and Rory Stewart MP (author, soldier, diplomat and adventurer). In addition Ben Freeth, who with his father-in-law famously took Robert Mugabe to the international courts over the theft of their farm, will talk about his book which outlines his experiences in Zimbabwe. There are still many famous names on the short list of speakers yet to be announced. Watch their website, www.sherborneliterarysociety.com, for the most up to date news.
Great for adults and children alike, the Sherborne Literary Festival offers something for everyone. This one is definitely not to be missed!
The Bridport Literary Festival
Sunday 5th to Sunday 12th November 2017
This event plans to be the best yet! We are writing this so early in the year, that details have yet to be published. The dates are correct though, so if you are planning a cottage holiday for November, please check for details nearer the time.
Dorchester Literary Festival
18th to 22nd October 2017
‘Literary Passions and Country Pleasures’ is how this wonderful festival is described. With highly acclaimed authors ready to enlighten, amaze and entertain, in the most beautiful setting of Dorchester.
The five day programme will include the following headliners; Dorchester’s patron Tracy Chevalier, biographer A N Wilson, Holocaust survivor Iby Knill, comedian Christopher Biggins, foreign correspondent Fergal Keane, acclaimed poet and critic Tom Paulin, travel expert Alastair Sawday, best-selling historians Ian Mortimer and Katie Hickman, award winning writer Adam Nicholson and many more.
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