Sunday, 17 June 2012

Landscapes in Literature

After emerging from weeks of studying for my exam for the Reading & Studying Literature module of my Open University degree, on my first free Saturday in ages I went to an exhibition at the British Library. I am obviously obsessed. 

Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands is all about the influence that the landscape has had on British writers, and it is a really great exhibition. Little frissons of excitement buzzed through me when I read handwritten first drafts and notes from the likes of Graham Greene, Kazuo Ishiguro and George Orwell, while the short film from Robert MacFarlane and Simon Armitage about their travel writing and poetry, and how it has been formed by their relationship with the land they live on, was truly inspirational. 

Separated into six separate kinds of landscape: Rural Dreams, Dark Satanic Mills, Wild Places, Beyond the City, Cockney Visions and Waterlands, the literature it looks at ranges from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and so much inbetween. It set me to thinking about the landscapes that I've lived in and visited, and the influence they've had on my writing, and I realised it has been huge.

In the novel that I am currently working on many of the places I have lived in also feature in my character's life and I can see that what happens to her state of mind when she's in them is a reflection of how I feel when I am in the city, the wilds and the suburbs. Recently I spent a blissful week in a Fisherman's Hut in the peace and tranquility of Southwold in Suffolk, and the story ideas were flowing fast when my mind was freed from all of the stuff that clutters it up in my day-to-day life in London, all of them inspired by what I could see, smell and feel all around me. 

So, with that in mind, I do believe it's time to put the city life behind me and get myself back to a world of natural beauty, to start living some rural dreams and spending a lot more time in wild places.  


  1. You won't be sorry! I did the same thing two years ago. The city is always there when I need my fix.

  2. Good morning - I've just nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. Check out my blog at Congratulations on a great blog.

  3. Hello Patricia, thanks so much for nominating me for the versatile blog award - I'm very honoured and so glad that you enjoy the blog. I know I won't be sorry about leaving the city behind, I feel more positive about everything just by making the decision. Now to think of my 15 nominees for the Versatile Blog award...

  4. Lucky you to be back in school. I could bean eternal student if I had my choice....

  5. Alas I am still working while I do it so full time worker and part-time student!

  6. Hi Amanda .. the course sounds very interesting - good for you. How wonderful that you continue on by going to that exhibition - now you've piqued my interest!

    Cheers - good luck with everything - you'll achieve so much and benefit yourself enormously with all these goals .. enjoy some time to relax .. Hilary