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Many of her friends featured in the Orlando books, including the Suffolk artists Cedric
Morris, who appeared as a dancing master, and Arthur Lett Haines, who became a sinister
Catnapper. Cowells of Ipswich, the printers, taught her how to produce her own plates of
colour lithography, her publishers having threatened to cut out all but the essential pictures
because of the cost.
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In 1945, far away in Malibu, DODIE SMITH (1896-1990) sat down to write a novel set
in a house she had seen in WINGFIELD Suffolk in 1934, a house which was part of a
castle. In I Capture the Castle, the heroine, Cassandra Mortmain, remembers ‘How strange
and beautiful it looked in the late afternoon light. I can still recapture that first glimpse –
see the pale yellow sky, the reflected castle stretching towards us on the brimming moat, the
floating patches of emerald-green water weed.’ Wingfield Castle is not open to the public but
you can still see the Castle and its moat from the road. The castle was licensed to be built in
1382 after the Peasant’s Revolt. Later, Dodie Smith settled in Finchingfield in Essex where
she wrote One Hundred and One Dalmatians and put the evil Cruella de Ville living in the
fictional village of Dympling, near SUDBURY.
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Another castle, FRAMLINGHAM, has been important to ANTHONY HOROWITZ and he
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says it is where his love affair with Suffolk began. ‘What has always delighted me,’ he said, ‘are
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the Tudor chimneys that rise, incongruously, above the walls.’ Framlingham Castle is the setting i
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for one of his early, pre Alex Rider stories, The Devil and His Boy and the extraordinary
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chimneys are the starting point for the adventure, set in the reign of Elizabeth 1.
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HELEN OXENBURY
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, the award-winning children’s illustrator, was born and grew up in
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IPSWICH. Her earliest memory was ‘hearing the drone of the doodlebugs, the whine of
sirens and being snatched from my bed and rushed down the garden shelter where we had
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delicious cups of tea and jolly games until the “all clear” … In the daytime my brother and
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I searched for shrapnel and jumped on to old bomb craters on the heath behind our garden.’
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During her holidays from Ipswich Art School (the building remains on Museum Street, next
to the Museum, of which it is now part) she worked at the Ipswich Arts Theatre in Tower
Street, now The Rep wine bar, where she decided her future lay in costume design. However,
she was told by a teacher that she should take up illustrating as ‘You’re much more
interested in the characters.’ Of her many books, perhaps her best beloved is Michael Rosen’s
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and she won the Kate Greenaway prize for her illustrations of
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
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MEG ROSOFF set What I Was, a novel for older readers, on the Suffolk coast in the
1960s. It tells of a teenage boy struggling to cope with the traditions and bullying of
boarding school. His only solace is Finn, a friend he meets in a fisherman’s hut on the beach,
which he visits whenever he can. The Sunday Times wrote that it makes ‘us fall in love not
only with Finn but also the Suffolk coast, the land, the sky and the sea, passionately
described in airy and crystalline prose.’
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