Cumbria’s Modern-Day Authors


Cumbria is well known for its wonderful literary heritage, with famous historical names such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter making up the roster of important authors.

But there are many modern-day authors who have been just as inspired by the landscape of the Lake District too and today and we’re sharing some gems to add to your own reading list.

Ian Hall

Farming in Eskdale in the Lake DistrictWe’re starting close to home! Ian Hall is no other than Sally’s dad – you may know him if you follow our Facebook live videos because of his wonderful background guitar strumming! As well as musician, Ian has many strings to his bow including farmer, priest, campsite owner and, of course, author. His memoir Fisherground: Living the Dream, is an honest portrayal of life in one of the quietest valleys of Cumbria: Eskdale. Another of his novels - this one fictional but based on fact - looks at the lives of people who have lived at Thorneythwaite Farm in Borrowdale.

You can enjoy your own stay at Fisherground at the farmhouse or at one of the lodges: Field End, Wood Bank and Barn Garth.

Catherine Hall

Author Catherine HallIan isn’t the only author in the family, either! Sally’s sister, Catherine, was born in Eskdale and now lives in London. Starting work in documentary film production, her first novel was Days of Grace, a suspenseful story about wartime friendship and a secret kept for decades. The Proof of Love followed her successful debut and is set in the Lake District itself, where a Cambridge mathematician builds a genuine friendship with scruffy 10-year-old Alice. Her third novel is The Repercussions and we are now eagerly awaiting her fourth. Watch this space!

Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg was born in Carlisle and is president of the Words by the Water literary festival held every March at the Theatre by the Lake. This multi-award-winning author has dipped a toe in various forms of writing including novels, non-fiction, children’s books and even some screenplays! His ‘Cumbrian Trilogy’ is based in a fictional town that bears more than a passing resemblance to Cumbria’s Wigton and tells a family saga of three generations as they live and grow through the ups and downs of historical change.

Suzanna Cruickshank

Suzanna Cruickshank in Styhead TarnWild swimming guide extraordinaire and previous Sally’s Cottages employee Suzanna Cruickshank is the person to go to if you want to take a dip in one of Cumbria’s lakes or rivers. She is now also an author with the release of her debut book, Swimming Wild in the Lake District. Full of useful tips for brand new and experienced outdoor swimmers alike, it will give you lots of suggestions for fabulous places to explore the water.

Matthew Connolly

Wordsworth's daffodils at UllswaterBorn in Manchester and trained as a journalist, Matthew Connolly now lives in the Lake District. His first novel, Dances with the Daffodils, is a fictional account of Luke Greenhead’s meeting with Dorothy Wordsworth – sister of the famed poet – during a visit to the Ullswater daffodils that inspired William’s beloved poem. Luke’s love for Dorothy results in a battle of forbidden love and tangled loyalties set amongst the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.

Bob Orrell

Bob Orrell, Cumbrian authorBorn in Manchester, Bob Orrell ran away from home at age 14 and started working as a deckhand on the west coast of Scotland and off the shores of Iceland. His own life reads like an adventure story: volunteering with the RAF, taking on the role of lighthouse keeper, hunting for oil in the North Sea... He first moved to the Lake District as a sailing instructor, returning again after further adventures and making his home in Ravenglass, where he wrote his first Cumbrian book. Describing fascinating local history of this county and other areas of the UK, his books bring to life little-known stories of the past.

James Rebanks

Herdwick sheep farming in the Lake DistrictLake District farmer and Oxford University graduate James Rebanks is not only an author but also an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. His well-known book, The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District, is a fascinating and engaging look into the lives of those whose families have been shepherding on the Lake District fells for generations. From the toil to the rewards, Rebanks never shies away from honest accounts of life as a Lakeland shepherd.

Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park

Corpse road in Wasdale, the Lake DistrictIf you’re fascinated by a bit of myth and mystery, then don’t miss The Corpse Roads of Cumbria about the many paths criss-crossing Cumbria that were once used to transport the dead from the remote villages of the county to a ‘mother’ church for burial. Researched in-depth by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park, a couple from Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria, the book was named Lakeland Book of the Year in 2019 and also explores Cumbrian funeral customs and superstitions.

You can see what’s in store with Alan’s guest blog, The Corpse Roads of Cumbria.

Beth Pipe

Author Beth Pipe walking in the Lake DistrictHiker, blogger and freelance writer Beth Pipe loves a good walk in Cumbria and can be relied on for entertaining and informative books about this wonderful landscape. From a gin tour of Lakeland distilleries to Historic Cumbria: Off the Beaten Track, Beth’s knowledge, humour, and enthusiasm seep through her work until you can’t wait to get out and explore for yourself!

Take a look at Beth’s guest blog of her gin adventure around Cumbria.

 J.C. Briggs

Author J.C. Briggs
If you're a lover of murder mystery and Charles Dickens, then J.C. Briggs has the books for you! Her meticulously researched stories are fiction based on true events, locations and people around the times of Dickens. They follow the famous author as he plays detective alongside partner Superintendent Sam Jones, investigating grizzly murders and mysterious goings on!

Sarah Hall

Haweswater in the Lake DistrictBorn in Carlisle, Sarah Hall began her writing career at the age of 20 with poetry. Her first novel is based on the Lake District lake of Haweswater, and explores both the history of the creation of the reservoir and the devastating effect it had on local families. Her other novels range from a dystopian world of oppression to the riotous world of Coney Island in the USA.

Chris Bonington

Blencathra in the Lake District covered in snowChris Bonington is best known for his climbing: starting at the age of 16, he made the first British ascent of the North Wall of the Eiger and led the expedition that made the first ascent of the South Face of Annapurna, the biggest and most difficult climb in the Himalayas at the time. His 17 books tell of his amazing experiences up the likes of Everest and are a must-read for anyone who dreams of adventure.

You can find your own inspiration in Cumbria and the Lake District at one of our self-catering holiday cottages.

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