The county of Yorkshire has captivated the imagination of many a writer. Novels, plays and poems have emanated from the area for a number of years and just the character of the county itself is enough to fire the creative gene in most writers. It is possible to divide the novelists that have been writing about the county for years and modern-day writers who see Yorkshire in a very modern-day light, and one that the older generations would not recognize.
The Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne were born in Thornton, Bradford later moving to Haworth in the early 19th century. The family produced the classics, “Jane Eyre”, “Wuthering Heights” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”. The sisters were inspired by the surroundings they were raised in. Their characters spoke in Yorkshire dialect, lived in Yorkshire house and followed Yorkshire occupations. The three spinsters managed to produce novels that shocked critics as adultery, drunkenness, murder, skulduggery and love were all explored.
As the Bronte’s were giving insights into Yorkshire in the 19th century Barbara Taylor Bradford has played a similar role in the early 20th century. Her most famous novel “A Woman of Substance”, the first of a seven-book saga tells the story of woman’s journey to New York having started life as a maid in rural Yorkshire. Although now a resident of New York many of her books refer to life in Yorkshire. She has written 35 Novels and “A Woman of Substance” has sold 30 million copies around the world.
Present day Yorkshire is described by many young novelists who have appeared since the start of the new millennium. Although born in Derby Sunjeev Sahota now lives in Sheffield which he writes about in his novel “The Year of the Runaways”. Short listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the book deals with the hardships face by immigrants entering Britain, and Sheffield in particular. Social and political conditions of modern day Yorkshire are explored, and the books gives a real insight into living in a typical Yorkshire city.
Some of Britain’s most successful playwrights have emerged from Yorkshire. Alan Bennett was born in Leeds in 1934 and has written many plays as well as novels. His work includes “The History Boys”, “Forty Years On”, “Beyond the Fringe” and “Talking Heads”. Bennett despite all of his stage, television and film success still lives in the county, and much of his work has been set in his native surroundings. Another celebrated playwright is Alan Ayckbourn who lives in Scarborough. He has written and produced more than seventy plays, with more than forty of them appearing in London’s West End. Ten of his plays have appeared on Broadway in New York, and he has won seven London Evening Standard awards.
The natural beauty of the county has inspired many poets. Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge. He wrote numerous poems about life in the area and in 1984 was the Poet Laureate. He married the American poet Sylvia Plath, who also wrote poems on the natural wilderness of the county. Another celebrated poet was W.H. Auden who was born in York in 1907, and published more than 400 poems before his death in 1973. His most famous work is “Funeral Blues”, with its popularity increasing dramatically after it was featured in the 1994 film “Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Yorkshire has produced many writers and poets over the centuries. There can be no doubt that its rural and urban landscapes, will continue to inspire future generations to put their creative ideas down on paper.