BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

History Features

You are in: Beds Herts and Bucks > History > History Features > Buckinghamshire Literary Map

Buck's Literary Map

Buck's Literary Map

Buckinghamshire Literary Map

Forget Dublin, London, Stratford on Avon and all the other literary centres of the universe - Buckinghamshire was the place to be for any serious writer! Here are just a few of the famous writers connected with the area.

BEACONSFIELD

G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton was a prolific critic and author of verse, essays, novels, and short stories. Between 1900 and 1936 he published some 100 books.

G.K. Chesterton's house in Beaconsfield

G.K. Chesterton's house in Beaconsfield

He was also one of the big Edwardian men of letters but is probably best known for his series about the priest-detective Father Brown who appeared in 50 stories.

In 1909 Chesterton moved with his wife to Overroads in Grove Road, Beaconsfield from where he continued to write, lecture, and travel. He wrote much of his best work here including the "Father Brown" detective stories.

He died on 14 June 1936 in Beaconsfield. His coffin had to be lowered from the window to the ground as it was too big to be carried down the staircase.

He is buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Beaconsfield, beneath a stone incorporating a carving by Eric Gill and the text, 'PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF GILBERT KEITH CHESTERTON...TERMINO NOBIS DONET IN PATRIA.'

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

This American poet lived in a bungalow in Reynolds Road, Beaconsfield after moving to England in 1912. A plaque marks the site where the bungalow once stood.

Here he wrote such poems as "Mending Wall" and "Birches."

Alison Uttley (1884 – 1976)

The creator of "Little Grey Rabbit" and "Sam Pig" lived in Ellwood Road. She wrote more than 87 children's books.

CHALFONT ST GILES

John Milton

Milton's Cottage is the only surviving home of John Milton, known primarily as one of the greatest English poets of all time.

John Milton's Cottage

John Milton's Cottage

It was in this grade two listed 16th century cottage that Milton completed Paradise Lost, and the idea of Paradise Regained was put to him.

Milton and his wife came to live in Chalfont St Giles in the summer of 1665 after leaving London to escape the plague. They stayed there for less than a year.

This may seem like a very tenuous link with the village but Milton was very much part of the community.

It is also important because it was in this cottage that he completed his great poetic masterpiece 'Paradise Lost'.

It is laid out today much as it would have appeared over 300 years ago when Milton first arrived. It is a basic house with few furnishings, but it now also incorporates a museum to his life and works.

There are also large gardens surrounding the cottage, containing many varieties of flowers, fruit trees, and herbs referred to in his poems.

This beautiful cottage offers the visitor a perfect and peaceful place to contemplate the work of John Milton.

MARLOW

T S Eliot (1888 – 1965)

The poet famous for 'The Wasteland' lived in West Street, Marlow, for a short time, as well as in High Wycombe.

Thomas Love Peacock (1795 – 1866)

This novelist and poet lived for many years in West Street, Marlow. He is chiefly remembered for the novels "Headlong Hall" and "Nightmare Abbey".

The Church of St Giles with Thomas Gray's tomb

The Church of St Giles with Thomas Gray's tomb

Mary Shelley (1792 – 1822)

The author of "Frankenstein" lived at Albion House, West Street, Marlow in 1817. She wrote the classic novel here while awaiting the birth of her baby. Her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, also wrote "The Revolt of Islam" here.

STOKE POGES

Thomas Gray (1716 – 1771)

The poet often visited his mother at West End Farm, Burnham and described the area in "Elegy in a Country Churchyard". His tomb can be seen in the churchyard at the Church of St. Giles, off Church Lane, Stoke Poges.

The church is bordered on one side by the National Trust field with its sarcophagus to Thomas Gray erected in 1799 by John Penn and the beautiful Stoke Poges Garden created by Sir Noel Mobbs. These gardens are open to the public.

The churchyard was immortalised in Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.

The poet lies in the simple tomb of his mother and sister, close to the church. His name does not appear on this tomb but his death was recorded on a tablet on the church wall opposite and, of course, in the parish register.

Though twice enlarged since Gray’s lifetime, the churchyard still remains much as he must have known it. The yew, under which Gray is said to have written his Elegy, is still to be seen near the church door, and the church tower, then clad in ivy, is referred to in the poem.

TAPLOW

Walter de la Mare - 1873-1956

Walter de la Mare retired to Taplow, where he lived at Hill House from 1925 to 1940 with his wife, Constance Elfrida Ingpen, and four children. .
The novelist and poet wrote numerous novels, essays, plays, poems and stories, and also worked as a critic and editor. His best known novel is "Memoirs of a Midget".

Other Buckinghamshire places with literary connections

AYLESBURY

John Wilkes (1729 – 1797)

From 1749 onwards, the politician and writer occasionally lived at Prebendal House.

BOURNE END

Benjamin Disraeli - 1804-1881

The statesman and novelist spent his childhood in Bourne End, but lived at Hughenden Manor from 1848. Nearby Bradenham inspired the Hurstley of his novel "Endymion".

Edgar Wallace (1875 – 1932)

This writer produced more than 150 novels and 15 plays but died after accepting a Hollywood offer to work on the film script of "King Kong". His remains lie in Little Marlow cemetery.

Enid Blyton

The writer of lived at Old Thatch in Bourne End.

BURNHAM

R.B.Sheridan - 1751-1816

The dramatist lived at East Burnham Cottage after his marriage in 1773.

CHALFONT ST PETER

Elizabeth Coxhead (1909 – 1979)

The writer of eight novels - including the controversial "One Green Bottle", condemned for its explicitness by the Bishop of Chester in 1951 - lived here.

CHESHAM

D.H. Lawrence - 1885-1930

The novelist and poet rented a cottage at Cholesbury near Chesham, while he was working on "The Rainbow" from 1914-1915.

DENHAM

John Dryden -1631-1700

The poet and dramatist was a frequent visitor to relatives at Denham Court. He was inspired here to write the famous "Ode to St Cecilia" in 1697.

GERRARD'S CROSS

John Betjeman -1906-1984

Betjeman became a teacher at Thorpe House School, Gerrard's Cross, before working as a private secretary.

The former Poet Laureate enthused much about Beechy Bucks, and with John Piper edited Murray's Buckinghamshire Architectural Guide in 1948.

GREAT MISSENDEN

Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990)

The writer of books including 'James and the Giant Peach', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', and 'Tales of the Unexpected' lived at Gipsy House.

GRENDON UNDERWOOD

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Shakespeare is rumored to have stayed at The Ship Inn - now a farmhouse called Shakespeare’s Farm - which inspired the rustic humour of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream".

HIGH WYCOMBE

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 –1894)

The author and novelist strolled from High Wycombe, through the Missendens to Tring and described the Chilterns as "The Country of the Larks".

HOLMER GREEN

Christina Rossetti - 1830-1894

The poet Rossetti regularly visited her grandparents here. "If one thing schooled me in the direction of poetry, it was the delightful liberty to prowl all alone about my grandfather‘s cottage grounds" she wrote.

THE LEE

Katherine Mansfield - 1888-1923

Mansfield lived here with her husband, the poet John Middleton Murray, from 1914-1915. Her work included collections of short stories such as "Bliss" and "The Garden Party".

OLNEY

William Cowper (1731 – 1800)

The poet lived in Olney for nearly 20 years, moving to Weston Underwood in 1786. Among many other works, "The Task" was written here.

PRINCES RISBOROUGH

Winifred Holtby - 1898-1935

The novelist and essayist convalesced in Whiteleaf near Princes Risborough in 1932. Her most famous novel "South Riding" was published posthumously.

SWANBOURNE

Elizabeth Fremantle

The diarist settled here in 1798. She and her sisters kept diaries, published as "The Wynne Diaries".

WEST WYCOMBE

Sir Francis Dashwood (1708 – 1781)

Dashwood founded the Hell-Fire Club, which met in West Wycombe Park. Other notable literary members included Charles Churchill, Robert Lloyd, and John Wilkes.

We want to make these literary maps as comprehensive as possible.

If you know of any other literary associations, please let us know. We will add them in and of course tell everybody who told us!

Steve Smith, Olney Tuesday, 15-Feb-2005 12:49:49 GMT

John Newton, former slave trader, became Curate of the church of SS Peter & Paul in Olney in 1764, where he spent almost 16 years and wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. With his friend, the poet Willam Cowper, he also co-wrote the 'Olney Hymns'.

Pam Connor, Chalfont St,Giles, Bucks Monday, 19-Apr-2004 17:18:47 BST

Sean O'Casey lived in a bungalow, just off The Deanway in Chalfont St Giles. He lived there at the time that his play, The Silver Tassie, was running in London.

Ralph Stephen, Uxbridge Thursday, 31-Jul-2003 13:54:12 BST

Buckinghamshire Literary Map. The horror story writer Shaun Hutson lives in Buckinghamshire, but unfortunately I don't know where. George Orwell worked as a school teached in Frays College, Uxbridge, Middlesex, close to the border with Buckinghamshire. One day he rode his motor bike into the countryside and caught pneumonia in the rain. I don't have the "Collected Writings" to hand but I vaguely remember that his unfortunate trip was in Buckinghamshire.

   

 
   

last updated: 12/03/2008 at 10:43
created: 31/01/2006

Have Your Say

Let us know any other Buckinghamshire literary links!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

You are in: Beds Herts and Bucks > History > History Features > Buckinghamshire Literary Map



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy