With its sweeping seascapes and rolling pastoral landscapes, East Sussex is nothing short of inspirational. Time and time again, this very pretty corner of England turns up in artistic creation. But the county has been particularly prolific in the world of fiction and a long list of writers have made it their home. Read on to discover our pick of the eight famous authors of East Sussex.
Inspirational hills at Burwash – Rudyard Kipling
The author of the Jungle Book and the Just So stories loved the county so much that he had two homes there. The first was in the picture-perfect village of Rottingdean where he lived between 1897 and 1903. But Kipling’s most famous residence was Bateman’s in Burwash. He lived in the fine Jacobean property until 1936.
> See for yourself – the view of the hill behind the house that inspired Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, that he wrote in 1906.
Writing gardens in Rye – Henry James
The Turn of the Screw ranks among the world’s most gripping horror novellas and never fails to send a chill down your spine. James, one of the most famous East Sussex authors, revised it and wrote many other works when he lived at Lamb House in Rye. The American author fell in love with the home (and East Sussex) when he saw a watercolour of the Garden Room by his artist friend Edward Warren. He leased and then bought the property where he lived until 1916.
> See for yourself – although a WWII bomb destroyed James’ beloved Garden Room, you can still visit the ground floor and walled garden at Lamb House.
Adventures at Camber Sands – Monica Edwards
Children’s adventures don’t come much better than those depicted in the Punch Bowl Farm and Romney Marsh series of stories by Monica Edwards. She lived in Rye Harbour and, during the summer, in a fishing hut at Camber Sands. East Sussex fans will recognise many of the area’s attractions such as the castle, Martello Tower, and Rye Harbour in her books, written in the 1950s.
> See for yourself – stay in Camber Sands cottages right on the beach.
Stream of consciousness in Rodmell – Virginia Woolf
One of Britain’s greatest modern authors, Woolf made East Sussex her home when she moved with her husband Leonard to Rodmell, near Lewes. The 16th-century weatherboarded Monk’s House and specifically the writing lodge were where Woolf wrote most of her most famous works including Mrs Dalloway and The Waves.
> See for yourself – the writing lodge in the garden where Woolf wrote most of her works, ‘commuting’ from Monk’s House, as she herself said, “with the regularity of a stockbroker”.
The search for peace of mind on Romney Marsh – Joseph Conrad
The author of Heart of Darkness lived with his wife Jessie at Pent Farm in Aldington from 1898 until 1907. Conrad took frequent walks on Romney Marsh in search of peace, a tranquillity he reportedly never found. While he lived there, he wrote The End of the Tether, helped by Ford Maddox Ford.
> See for yourself – the wild stretches of Romney Marsh with its haunting mists from a traditional coastguard’s cottage.
Wonderful woods at Ashdown – AA Milne
Among the most famous authors of East Sussex is the creator of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin. Milne lived on the northern edge of Ashdown Forest and parts of woodland inspired his works including 100 acre wood and the bridge where Pooh and Piglet played Pooh sticks.
> See for yourself – the locations that inspired The House at Pooh Corner et al when you walk Ashdown Forest
Elementary mysteries at Crowborough – Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle put detective fiction firmly on the reading map with his novels starring Holmes and Watson. He wrote many of them while he lived at Windlesham on the outskirts of Crowborough. His favourite writing spot was a shed in the gardens with views of East Sussex.
> See for yourself – visit the county’s coastline, home to the Sussex Sea Devils, strange amphibians that captured local women in the final book in The Cthulhu Casebooks trilogy.
Green views from Sussex – Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Victorian poet laureate began his love affair with Sussex when he and his wife rented a home in Seaford. But it wasn’t until they built a home on the secluded Black Down with commanding views that Tennyson established a permanent base in the county. Aldworth, built in Gothic style, had commanding views over the hills to the sea, the inspiration behind many of Tennyson’s poems.
> See for yourself – the view of the Weald on Black Down that Tennyson described as “Green Sussex fading into blue/ With one grey glimpse of sea”.
Visit inspirational East Sussex
Discover the landscapes that inspired famous East Sussex authors when you stay at a self-catering cottage. Stunning views come as standard from all our holiday homes and inspiration is guaranteed. Who knows, maybe you’ll be putting pen to paper yourself!
You may also enjoy reading:
- 8 sublime vineyards in East Sussex
- High Weald need to know
- 72 hours in Camber Sands
- 10 National Trust days out in East Sussex
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