What links Frankenstein, Black Beauty and Swallows and Amazons? Put on your walking boots in Broadland to find out

A map showing the new trails. Graphic: Courtesy of Broadland District Council

A map showing the new trails. Graphic: Courtesy of Broadland District Council - Credit: Broadland District Council

The beauty of the Broads has for centuries inspired authors to pen some of the world's most famous books. Now literature lovers can uncover the origins behind some of the titles through two trails showcasing the region's rich history.

An aerial view of Aylsham which features prominently on the trails. Picture: Courtesy of Broadland

An aerial view of Aylsham which features prominently on the trails. Picture: Courtesy of Broadland District Council - Credit: Broadland District Council

The trails were set up by Visit Broadland to celebrate '2017 - the Year of Literary Heroes'. They allow visitors to find out more about the region's links to author's like Arthur Ransome, who wrote the children's series Swallows and Amazons, and Anna Sewell of Black Beauty fame.

Mr Ransome based some of his popular series in Broadland locations Wroxham and Ranworth while Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty at a house in Old Catton. She is buried in the Quaker cemetery in Lamas. The chapel is now a home and Sewell's grave has been set into the wall by the gate.

The trails are suitable for walking or cycling and can be done over several days. They take people along the River Bure, from Blickling to Ranworth and along Marriott's Way from Guestwick to Weston Longville. Links to other famous authors include Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Formerly known as Mary Godwin, her grandfather was the minister of an early Congregational Chapel at St Peter's Church in Guestwick.

Janet Mark's children's story Thunder and Lightnings was inspired by the famous RAF Coltishall base. In the book, Andrew's family move to Norfolk and he becomes captivated with the Lightning fighters which are based at the RAF site. A well-known poem named Reedham Marshes by Edwin Brock describes his experiences of the Reedham waters.

Arthur Ransome wrote the children’s series Swallows and Amazons. Picture: Duke's Auctioneers/PA Wire

Arthur Ransome wrote the childrens series Swallows and Amazons. Picture: Duke's Auctioneers/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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The Year of Literary Heroes is being organised by Visit England to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death and 20 years since the first Harry Potter book.

Karen Vincent, member champion for heritage at Broadland District Council, said: 'Visit England's Year of Literary Heroes gives us a great opportunity to showcase Broadland's connections to some great writers and works of literature.

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'These trails give people the chance to take a few days to come and explore our beautiful district and our communities the chance to find out more about their local literary links.'

? For more information, visit www.broadland.gov.uk/literaryheroes

A first edition of Anna Sewells classic Black Beauty. Picture: Archant Library

A first edition of Anna Sewells classic Black Beauty. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Other literary links

•John of Gaunt appears in Shakespeare's play Richard II. He was the 1st Duke of Lancaster, son of Edward III and was the Lord of the Manor in Aylsham.

•Aylsham is also home to poet Michael Mackmin. He established The Rialto poetry magazine with John Wakeman, which has become a highly-respected journal in literary circles.

Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons. Picture: Archant Library

Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

•Parson Woodforde, author of the Diary of a Country Parson. His diary is now a recognised record of rural life in the 18th century.

•Booton Church was built by amateur architect, Whitwell Elwin. Elwin, who is thought to be descended from the Native American heroine Pocahontas, was the editor of the Quarterly Review publication from 1853-1860.

•Booton is also the village that writer and TV star, Stephen Fry grew up in.

•Ranworth Broad is used as a location in the Wraiths and Changelings by Gladys Mitchell.

Anna Sewell. Picture: Archant Library

Anna Sewell. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

•Norfolk Poem by John Betjeman in which the River Bure features.

Booton Church was built by amateur architect Whitwell Elwin. Picture: Courtesy of Broadland District

Booton Church was built by amateur architect Whitwell Elwin. Picture: Courtesy of Broadland District Council. - Credit: Broadland District Council

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