Fiction set in Aldeburgh and Suffolk


Books set in Suffolk & Aldeburgh

Kathleen Hale: Orlando the Marmalade Cat: a Seaside Holiday

Undoubtedly Aldeburgh's most famous visitor, Orlando the Marmalade Cat brought his wife and children on holiday here to 'Owlbarrow' in 1952.  We sell this book and A Camping Holiday, sadly the only two Orlando titles now in print.  We also stock various Orlando goods, postcards, prints, jigsaw puzzles and mugs.  See our Orlando page for the full range of merchandise.

Jon Canter: A Short Gentleman

Set in Aldeburgh, this funny and thoughtful novel is the personal confession of Robert Purcell, who has had a privileged upbringing, but whose life falls apart when he commits a crime that sends him to prison. He struggles to come to terms with the forces that brought him down.  An adaptation of A Short Gentleman was broadcast of BBC Radio 4 in January 2012.  Jon Canter is a TV and radio comedy sketch writer.  He lives in Aldeburgh.

Emma Chichester Clark: Plumdog

Wilkie Collins: No Name

Wilkie Collins' sensational and compelling novel explores the themes of illegitimacy and inheritance in Victorian society.  The heroine pursues her persecutor to 'the quaint little watering-place' Aldborough.  Here she stays in the White Lion hotel and observes the comings and goings of the villa residents, some, such as sea bathing, no different to scenes which could be encountered today. What is different, is the presence of the Eastern Counties Railway, and the announcement in the East Coast Argus of the passengers on the incoming trains

M. R. James: Complete Ghost Stories 

'A Warning to the Curious' is set in Aldeburgh, which is called Seaburgh in the story

Penelope Fitzgerald: The Bookshop

The Bookshop, inspired by Fitzgerald’s own life working in a bookshop in Southwold, is about a woman, Florence, who opens a bookshop in the fictional town of Hardborough, and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Fitzgerald would win the following year with Offshore). 

It is spare, but revealing, quirky but unsentimental.  It is set in a small East Anglian coastal town, where Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. 'She had a kind heart, but that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation.' Hardborough becomes a battleground, as small towns so easily do. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take on not only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. “She’s got a shop full of books for people to read,” says one villager to another. “What for?” comes the reply. When she does get the store open, she is forced to diversify into greetings cards (“‘They really ought to be divided into Romantic and Humorous,’ said Florence. These, indeed, were the only two attitudes to the stages of life’s journey envisaged by the manufacturers of the cards”) and a lending library, for those who wish to borrow rather than buy.    She is forced to become not just a purveyor of literature but a businesswoman:

Now vans and estate cars began to appear in increased numbers over the brilliant horizon of the marshes, sometimes getting bogged down at the crossings and always if they tried to turn round on the foreshore, bringing the publishers’ salesmen. Even in summer, it was a hard journey. Those who made it were somewhat unwilling to part with their Fragrant Moments and engagement books, which were what Florence really wanted, unless she would also take the pile of novels which had the air, in their slightly worn jackets, of women on whom no one had ever made any demand. The real test for the shop comes – the book is set in 1959 – when Florence decides to stock Lolita.

Patricia Highsmith: A Suspension of Mercy

This is the novel Patricia Highsmith wrote while living in Suffolk, first in a rented house in King Street, Aldeburgh, then in Bridge Cottage in Earl Soham.

Jill Dawson: The Crime Writer

Esther Freud: Mr Mac and Me

Joanna Trollope: Daughters-in-Law

Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle

Robert Radcliffe: Under an English Heaven

John Preston: The Dig

Julie Myerson: Something Might Happen

P. D. James: Death in Holy Orders

Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine: No Night is Too Long

Pamela Holmes: The Huntingfield Paintress

H. W. Freeman: Joseph and his Brethren

Kate Worsley: She Rises

  George Crabbe: Peter Grimes

 With lino cut illustrations by James Dodds, card wrappers, £6.95


Nora Acheson: Up The Steps, A Tale of Old Aldeburgh

An exciting story for children, this is a tale of smugglers and shipwrecks set in Aldeburgh. Written by Dr Nora Acheson, the Aldeburgh doctor for many years, and it is her dog Snooks which is famously portrayed as a sculpture at the Boating Pond.

Parnassian Molehill, An Anthology of Suffolk Verse


Compiled by the Earl of Cranbrook, with a new introduction by Ronald Blythe, illustrated by John Nash.  Paperback, £17.95

Second edition.  The first edition was published in an edition of only 500 copies in 1953 and is now a rare collector's item.  This new edition reprints in facsimile the content, illustrations and design of the original volume, together with a new preface by Ronald Blythe.

Joyce Grenfell: Letters from Aldeburgh

A delightful collection of letters written by the entertainer Joyce Grenfell during her visits to Aldeburgh between 1962 and 1979.









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