BRADFIELD COMBUST was also the home of ARTHUR YOUNG (1741-1820). He lived
at Bradfield Hall, and is famous for his General View of the Agriculture of Suffolk and his
Farmer’s Tour through the East of England.
The celebrated writer of ghost stories, M.R. JAMES (1862-1936), Provost of King’s
College, Cambridge, and of Eton, was born and brought up at GREAT LIVERMERE
HALL, near Bury St Edmunds. The hall has gone but the park remains. On a dull day, or as
light fades, the mere at Livermere conveys something of the spooky atmosphere that possibly
inspired James. He achieved great success with Ghost Stories of an Antiquary and More
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. ‘A Warning to the Curious’ is set in Aldeburgh and the
terrifying ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’ in Felixstowe.
HAMMOND INNES (1913-1998) the successful adventure and thriller writer lived at
Ayres End, The Green, KERSEY. In novels such as The Mary Deare or Campbell’s Kingdom
he saw himself as one of the ‘last romantics’ in the tradition of Rider Haggard, R.L. W
Stevenson or Rudyard Kipling. His novels were described by the Guardian as ‘man’s
everlasting struggle against the enormous stature of nature’.
SIR JOHN VERNEY (1913-1993) moved from Surrey to The White House at CLARE.
He was an artist and author of Going to the Wars, a vivid account of his years in the army
during the Second World War, blending humour and seriousness. It was judged by critics to
be one of the finest personal memoirs of the war by a British Serviceman. He followed that
with A Dinner of Herbs, an account of his return to Italy in peace time. His children’s
books, such as Friday’s Child and February’s Tunnel, were very successful too but a lasting
legacy created by his comic inventiveness is The Dodo Pad. He described it as ‘an annual d
memo-doodle-engage-diary-message-ment book’, compiled under his persona as Lord Dodo
of Doodle. It included drawings, jokes and pieces of useless information, and his idea is
continued in the modern Dodo Pad.
SIR V.S. PRITCHETT (1900-1997) was born in IPSWICH ‘in lodgings over a toy shop’.
A distinguished novelist and critic, he is famed especially for his short stories, many of which
were brought together in two volumes of Collected Stories in 1982 and 1983.
The first English translations of the great Russian writer Tolstoy were produced by AYLMER
MAUDE (1858-1938). He too was born in IPSWICH where his father was rector of Holy
Trinity Church near the foot of Back Hamlet. He went to Russia in 1874 to study, stayed to
work as Managing Director in a Russian carpet company in Moscow for another twenty years
and became a friend of Tolstoy. ‘During the winters of 1895-96 and 1896-97, I went to see
him almost every week … he taught our boys to make paper cockerels.’ After his return to
England to Great Baddow in Essex he translated, with his wife, all of Tolstoy’s works in
English, especially Anna Karenina in 1918 and War and Peace in 1922.
ELIZA ACTON (1799-1859) wrote what was probably the first basic cookbook aimed at
the domestic reader rather than the professional chef with a full kitchen staff. Modern
Cookery for Private Families published in 1845 had recipes that were well written and easy
to understand. She introduced the now universal practice of listing the ingredients, and the
cooking times separately in each recipe. She was clearly the model for Mrs Beeton, and
Delia Smith (another Suffolk cookery writer) is quoted as having called her the best writer of