3.5 out of 5 stars
We have a rich and deep literary history in this country, there are poets, playwrights and authors who have been inspired by the places that they have lived and created works that still resonate today.
Tearle’s journey around begins in Scotland with William Topaz McGonnal, sometimes known as the Bard of Dundee. He is widely considered to be the worst poet in the English language. He applied for patronage from Queen Victoria, who politely declined, but he took to be an expression of interest. He agreed to read some of his works, in a circus, on the condition that the audience could pelt his with rotten vegetables and eggs. He agreed as the money was handy.
Moving on from this auspicious start, Tearle takes us past Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott and how a break in Whitby gave the creator of Dracula, Stoker, plenty of material to work with. In York, he tells us the favourite poem of the middle ages and it isn’t what you think it is before recounting stories about Bradford’s favourite literary son, Priestly. Further south in Nottingham, DH Lawrence is in trouble again with his book, The White Peacock.
There are stories about books and poems that have been written in jail, authors who stayed in towns that no longer exist, one about the oldest bookshop in Britain and why Thomas is buried in two locations. Even, Terry Pratchett does get a mention twice.
It is not too bad overall. There are various stories in here that were new to me, though I was aware of a few of them. It can’t have been easy choosing from the vast number of writers to make this a complete country tour. Glad it wasn’t London Centric too. If there was one flaw, I would have liked a few more contemporary authors to get a mention, but that is only a small thing.