Few people know that Nottinghamshire has quite a rich history when it comes to writing. Big names such as Lord Byron (Don Juan) and D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley’s Lover) are followed by Alan Sillitoe (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), Alison Moore (The Lighthouse) and Georgina Wilding (Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate for 2017/18).
Lord Byron’s first work to become acclaimed, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, does unofficially express the feelings, thoughts, and questions of the author himself.
The poem follows the life of a young man, that looks for distractions and “a life of pleasure” in his travels, trying to escape boredom – not the brightest portrayal of Nottinghamshire.
In his later work, the author continued to focus on a completely different world than the one at Newstead Abbey, where he lived for only six years.
During his stay in Ravenna, Italy, he published works such as The Prophecy of Dante, Sardanapalus, a play which talks about the fall of the Assyrian monarchy, and The Two Foscari: An Historical Tragedy upon which Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi based the opera I due Foscari.
Coming as a surprise for most, the writer of the ever popular and controversial Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence, worked as both a clerk in a factory, as well as a pupil’s teacher in Eastwood, Nottingham.
The wholly working-class novelist and poet has Nottinghamshire’s 1900s industrial era sprinkled across his most famous works, such as The White Peacock and The Rainbow, which can both save a dull afternoon.
Lawrence, unlike Byron, has heavily explored the local area in his novels and poems, stopping to take in the countryside which he loved, and analyse the hardships of an industrialized livelihood.
Following Lawrence’s work, Alan Sillitoe’s poems and novels also evoke the working class, inspired by the realities of an industrialized Nottinghamshire.
His first novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, has as a main character a factory worker, Arthur Seaton, thorough which the author explores the meaning of masculinity, and issues such as drinking and fighting. The novel was also adapted into a film, starring Albert Finney.
Seaton’s next novel, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, was also very well received, and followed by another on-screen adaptation with Tom Courtenay.
Today, Nottinghamshire’s literary world is upheld by names such as Alison Moore and Georgina Wilding.
The Lighthouse was Alison Moore’s debut novel, which could be spotted on the shortlist for the Man Brooker Prize back in 2012.
The novel follows the childhood memories of a middle-aged man, Futh, that embarks on a trip around native Germany, trying to discover the deep roots of his broken marriage.
Praised by Margaret Drabble, an acclaimed novelist and critic, Moore dabbled confidently into other recognized works by the literary world such as the novel He Wants, an Observer Book of the Year 2014.
Georgina Wilding, Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate (2017/2018), has since become the founder of the indie publishing house Mud Press and the creative director of the Nottingham Poetry Festival.
Her poem themes range on everything from her love for Nottingham, to praising women and can be viewed on Notts Tv, and We are Nottingham, National Poetry Day, and University of Nottingham channels.
With so much literature to explore, we can only wonder what it is yet to be discovered in our beloved Nottinghamshire, our home.
The Blue Line Trail links various Lawrence-related sights (D.H. Lawrence Birth Museum, Lynncroft House, Three Tuns Pub), that can be explored in a long walk around Eastwood.
Newstead Park & Formal Gardens are open to the public, even under current restrictions. Newstead Abbey, where Lord Byron lived between 1808 – 1814 is temporarily closed.
The Nottingham Poetry Festival takes places every November.
Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature will be holding their next online workshop on 3rd February, followed by an array of online events and talks every month.