A book lovers guide to Yorkshire

3rd September 2019

Colourful books on a shelf

Yorkshire’s beautiful countryside and towns have been a muse for authors for centuries, making it the perfect holiday destination for any avid bookworms. Read on to discover some of the literary locations you can visit across the county, including walking in the footsteps of the Brontë sisters along the wild moorlands or exploring beautiful nature spots like in The Secret Garden.

Wuthering Heights, Yorkshire Moors

Sheep on the Yorkshire moors

Enjoy a walk on the moors that are the setting of one of the world’s most famous literary novels, Wuthering Heights. Written back in 1847 by Emily Bronte, the book is often described as a genre-defining classic. Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel that follows the fictional doomed love story of the main characters Cathy and Heathcliff. Famous for its themes of complicated emotions, this novel has gripped its readers for over a century.

When in Yorkshire, be sure to visit one of the oldest literary societies in the world, the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which is where the sisters spent most of their life. Found in the quaint village of Haworth in West Yorkshire, you can learn more about the famous literary family. Her sisters, Charlotte and Anne Brontë, also became famous novelists, with both women writing Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall respectively.

The novel has also influenced many people to explore the Yorkshire moors themselves to enjoy the glorious views it has to offer. We spoke to Joey from Infinite & Darling, a shop offering unique gifts, artwork and stationery for book worms, to find out her favourite Yorkshire books:

“Of course, who cannot forget the wonderful Brontë sisters and their Yorkshire-set Gothic novels, traversing the wild moors and grand manor houses of that countryside. Visiting somewhere you've read about in a book is all about feeling that literary atmosphere: it makes you fall in love with a view like in Wuthering Heights and it also allows you to really imagine a certain scene that may have stuck in your mind, like Cathy wandering the lonely moors.”

Dracula, Whitby

Whitby Abbey

Another classic Yorkshire novel in the gothic genre is Dracula, written in 1897 by Irish Author Bram Stoker. Since its publication, Dracula has inspired countless vampire stories both in film and books. The name and setting of this book were inspired by Bram Stoker’s holiday in Whitby in 1890, with the town mentioned as the place Dracula landed on a fictional shipwreck. Other references to Whitby are made throughout the novel, including the towns red roofs and the ruins of the Gothic Whitby Abbey.

The novel has made Whitby a hot spot for the gothic community as well as those looking to explore a seaside town full of character. Stay at local accommodation in Robin Hoods Bay to enjoy some of the UK’s beautiful coastal walks and stop by attractions such as the Whitby Abbey and the harbourside.

Joey from Infinite & Darling continues to tell us: “Dracula is one of the greatest classics ever written, and Whitby is definitely one of the most beautiful locations in the world. The atmosphere is set perfectly in Count Dracula's castle in deep Transylvania and the transition to the ruins of Whitby Abbey makes it the perfect read to explore the Yorkshire coast.

“Living close to Whitby also means I can experience that most atmospheric of places - especially during the darker months of the year when it suddenly feels a little bit too much like Dracula may be near!”

If you really want to immerse yourself into the famous horror novel, you should visit the Dracula Experience. Enjoy the thrills of a unique tour where you’ll learn more about Dracula’s connection to Whitby though animated scenes, special effects and live actors.

A Kestrel for a Knave, Barnsley

A famous story about a troubled teenager growing up in the small mining town of Barnsley is from Barry Hine’s A Kestrel for a Knave. It depicts working-class Yorkshire, and the hardship that comes with it, through the life of Billy Casper, a boy who discovers a new lease of life when he finds a kestrel hawk.

A Kestrel for a Knave is a favourite Yorkshire book of Dane’s, from Social Bookshelves, a book blog featuring inciteful reviews. Dane comments: “We studied A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines at school and I re-read it a couple of years ago and still enjoyed it. I think the characters themselves reflected the fact that they were born and raised in working-class Yorkshire. But I can also see why it would be a perfect location for historical fiction and even crime novels as well because of the unique landscapes and history.”

We also spoke to Matt from Teen Librarian to find out which books he has read and why he thinks people visit places mentioned in their favourite book: “I have read several books set in Yorkshire, one being A Kestrel for a Knave. I think people visit places they read about as sometimes an author can ignite a passion and excitement for a place the reader may have never seen before and they fall in love with it and are drawn there to experience it in person for the first time.”

The secret garden, Helmsley Walled Garden

Garden fountain

A children’s classic novel that is loved by many is The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett over 100 years ago. The story follows Mary Lennox, a spoilt and unlikeable girl who moves into a manor house on the Yorkshire moors to live with an estranged uncle after her parents pass away. Mary begins to explore the manor and finds a secret garden, which eventually leads to new discoveries, friendships and a new fascination with the world.

A new film adaption is in the making, with the filming taking place in Helmsley Walled Garden and Duncombe Park, one of Yorkshire’s finest historic houses and estates. Yorkshire has plenty of nature spots to enjoy, but it is well worth a visit to the Helmsley Walled Garden to explore a garden that’s not unlike the fictional one written about in the book.

The Diary of a Yorkshire Vet, Boroughbridge

A Yorkshire book that is great for animal lovers and those looking for something non-fiction is The Diary of a Yorkshire Vet, which features entertaining stories about the vet work of Julien Norton, from tending to the local farm animals to pets. The book follows on from the TV series of the same name.

We asked Linda from Boroughbridge and the Lower Ure Valley Walks for her favourite Yorkshire book: “I enjoyed The Diary of a Yorkshire Vet by Julien Norton, this is a great book for anyone loving animals and the Yorkshire countryside. It's amazing how this book has generated so much interest in our town of Boroughbridge! Numbers of tourists, cyclists and walkers stop off to see the vet’s surgery and other places featured in the TV series and the books.”

Yorkshire has been the setting of many fantastic books, from classic novels to comedic non-fiction. Joey from Infinite & Darling continues: “Any book set in Yorkshire will always hold a dear place in my heart: I am an extremely proud Yorkshire lass and reading about any of the beautiful Yorkshire locations - from the wild moors to the deep forests, the crumbling buildings that link us to our past and that fierce North Sea - helps me keep a hold of my heritage.”

When staying in accommodation in Yorkshire, make sure to stop by some of the locations featured in Yorkshire’s greatest books.