This book includes a plain text version that is designed for high accessibility. To use this version please follow this link.
IAN McEWAN attended Woolverstone Hall School, a large, former country house built in
the eighteenth century beside the Orwell between Ipswich and Pin Mill. It is now the Ipswich
High School for Girls. Parts of his novel A Child in Time are set in Suffolk, and he has
Stephen, the main character, look out of the window during a boring meeting in London and
see instead ‘playing fields … then rough uncultivated land which fell away to oaks and
beeches, and beyond the great stretch of foreshore and the blue tidal river … he had
returned once to discover the trees efficiently felled, the land ploughed and the estuary
spanned by a motorway bridge.’ A walk by the Orwell at Woolverstone shows the same view.
Over a hundred years earlier WILKIE COLLINS (1824-1889) set a memorable section of
No Name in Aldeburgh, describing the fashionable promenading along the seafront where
Magdalen Vanstone determines to meet the sickly heir of her father’s estate, Noel Vanstone.
A very different Aldeburgh is described by PAT BARKER in Regeneration as a grim
coastal town during the First World War to which comes the psychologist W.H.R. Rivers to N
visit a young officer recovering from the trauma of trench warfare. As in No Name the o
Martello Tower symbolises bleakness and Rivers sees that ‘ferns grew from the high walls of
the moat; and the tower, where the look-out turret had crumbled away, was thronged with l
bindweed, but the overall impression was of a dead place.’

To Felixstowe comes, briefly, STEVIE SMITH’S (1902-71) heroine Pompey Casmilus in
Novel on Yellow Paper. ‘To the Ultima Thule of Felixstowe Beach, Reader, I have not

penetrated, preferring to run along the promenade and back in time for a good English

dinner … At Felixstowe dinner is on a high plane. Very spiritual.’
LESLEY GLAISTER set the final part of Easy Peasy in a wintry Felixstowe where, on
their way to the docks, the ‘juggernauts thunder through the wet orange and black, and send

sheets of freezing oily water, waves of it, sloshing up from the gutter.’
In nearby Kirton live ANN QUINTON’s detectives DI James Roland and Sergeant Patrick
Mansfield. To Mourn a Mischief is based upon a true story, excavating a German World
War II plane in the river mud near Kirton.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-70) visited Suffolk as a young reporter for The Morning
Chronicle in 1836 to report on the General Election. The corruption and bribery he
witnessed at Sudbury and Ipswich he later used for his famous Eatanswill election in The
Pickwick Papers. The Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich was the setting for Mr
Pickwick’s inadvertent entry into a lady’s bedroom. Despite his disparaging description of
the hotel, Dickens stayed there in 1859 when he gave a public reading at the Old Corn
Exchange in Ipswich, the site now occupied by the Lloyds TSB bank on the Cornhill. In the
same year, and again in 1861, he also stayed at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, where
there is still a Charles Dickens room. He also had Mr Pickwick staying there: ‘And this, said
Mr Pickwick looking up, ‘is the Angel’, we alight here, Sam’.
A walking holiday in North Suffolk from Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth and back in 1848,
past a signpost saying ‘Blundeston’, probably gave Dickens the name for David Copperfield’s
birthplace, which he made ‘Blunderstone’. There is no record of Dickens ever visiting the
village but local tradition asserts Blundeston Rectory is the original for The Rookery. The
church has a round tower restored as a Dickens memorial, although in the novel the church
Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28