50 Books to Celebrate Yorkshire Day


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The 1st of August marks Yorkshire Day, a date to celebrate all things Yorkshire: either those having been born in the English county, living in the county or anyone who is a fan of Yorkshire Puddings and whippets.

Thus, to help anyone who isn't from Yorkshire to celebrate, we've put together this list of books that all have some kind of connection to Yorkshire; whether it be North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire or South Yorkshire-either being set in any part of Yorkshire or have authors that were born or raised there.

It's by no means a comprehensive list but it does encapsulate some beloved classics from years gone by, to contemporary takes on the landscape, so it should definitely give you a taste of Yorkshire wherever in the world you may be.

 

1. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Helen Fielding was born in West Yorkshire in 1958, in the market town of Morley just south of Leeds.

Bridget Jones's Diary is one of the best-known and well-loved contemporary novels of this era, focusing on one woman's life as we follow her as she goes through diets, boyfriends and jobs like cake.

 

2. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson was born in York in 1951, North Yorkshire and her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, is also set in York. It flows through many eras of Ruby Lennox's family, chronicling their loves and lives.

 

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë and her sisters were born in the village of Haworth in West Yorkshire in 1818, near the Pennine mountain range. The Brontë's former house is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, situated in the village.

Wuthering Heights was Emily's only novel, following the lives of those living in Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights on the Yorkshire moorland in 19th Century England. It was published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. 

 

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is partially set in Whitby, North Yorkshire: one of the most famous coastal towns in England (and officially the best place to get fish and chips). The Gothic 19th Century novel sees Dracula arrive on the North Yorkshire coast in the form of a black dog, who then proceeds to pursue Lucy Westenra, a young lady who is holidaying in Whitby.

Whitby plays host to an annual Goth Weekend inspired by Dracula and the Gothic remains of the Whitby Abbey. It also has a Dracula Experience.

 

5. My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson graduated from Leeds University and set her novel My Best Friend's Girl in Leeds, West Yorkshire. It is a book described as being heart-warming, saddening, funny and full of love.

 

6. The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis

The Whitby Witches is a trilogy of children's book by Liverpudlian Robin Jarvis, set in the wonderful seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire. A contemprary fantasy, it concerns two children who encounter a strange breed of dwarf-like creatures known as Fisher Folk and follows their magical adventures through the cobbled streets of the town.

 

7. Gallows View (Inspector Banks) by Peter Robinson

The first book in the Inspector Banks series, Gallows View and the series is set in the fictional town of Eastvale (north of Ripon, North Yorkshire) and follows the London-born DCI Banks through a multitude of crimes.

 

8. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens 

One of the best-loved writers of the 19th Century, Charles Dickens partially based his novel Nicholas Nickleby in Yorkshire. Nicholas Nickleby, the eponymous hero, is sent to work at the Yorkshire boarding school Dothesboys Hall under the careful eye of Wackford Squeers.

Prefacing Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens said that Yorkshire Boarding Schools were "traders in the avarice, indifference, or imbecility of parents, and the helplessness of children" and were run by "ignorant, sordid, brutal men" and used the novel to explore and expose such practices.

 

9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

 The Secret Garden is one of the most loved children's classics ever written and is set in Yorkshire.

Mary Lennox, an unloved girl whose family dies of Cholera in India is sent to live with her uncle in Misslethwaite Manor in Yorkshire. The book is wonderfully splashed with 19th Century Yorkshire dialect words such as "brambles" and "victuals" and portrays the different ways of living between the working class and the upper, ruling class. 

 

10. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

Shirley is Charlotte Brontë's second novel after Jane Eyre, and whilst it was being written all three of her siblings died. Charlotte was born in 1816 and wrote under the pseudonym Currer Bell.

Set in the Spen Valley in West Yorkshire against the backdrop of the Luddite uprisings and the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, Shirley follows two heroines through their life in Yorkshire. A social commentary that Charlotte wanted to focus on "something real and unromantic as Monday morning."

 

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11. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was Anne Brontë's second and final novel after Agnes Grey and is set in Yorkshire. Anne was born in 1820 and wrote under the pseudonym Acton Bell.

Written in epistolary form, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall tells of a widow who moves to Wildfell Hall and stirs up local interest. A young farmer falls in love but then discovers her secrets and her past life. It's considered to be one of the earliest Feminist novels thanks to its strong female protagonist and non-conformity in terms of marriage, family and love.

 

12. An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

John Boynton Priestley was born in Manningham, Bradford in West Yorkshire in 1894.

An Inspector Calls in a play which concerns a well-to-do upper middle class family who are visited by Inspector Goole during a meal and questions them about the suicide of a young woman. 

 

13. The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris, most famous for the novel Chocolat, was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in 1964.

The Gospel of Loki is a fantasy-myth novel about the rise and fall of Asgard from the point of view of the trickster god, Loki. Harris has written other books based on Norse mythology called the Runemark series.

 

14. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Susan Hill was born in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast in 1942 and later moved to Coventry.

The Woman in Black is a horror novella written in the traditional Gothic style. It tells of a mysterious spectre that haunts a small English town that seems to herald the death of children. It has been adapted for television and film and most recently starred Daniel Radcliffe.

 

15. The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire in 1930. He was a poet, novelist and Poet Laureate and was married to the American poet Sylvia Plath.

The Iron Man is a science fiction modern fairy tale about a metal giant that begins to destroy the countryside and is befriended by a young boy. It was made in to an animated film in 1999 called The Iron Giant to avoid confusion with the comic book hero Iron Man.

 

16. William Wilberforce by William Hague

William Wilberforce was born in Kingston-Upon-Hull in East Yorkshire in 1759 and was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in England.

William Hague's book focuses on twenty-three years in Wilberforce's life and chronicles his life as an MP and humanitarian work.

 

17. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot 

All Creatures in Great and Small is set in Yorkshire, in the fictional Darrowby, a town in Yorkshire. It is based on the life and work of James Herriot (pen name of Alf Wight) as a vet in the Yorkshire countryside.

It was adapted in to a 1975 film and a successful television series in 1978 and 1988.

 

18. The Cædmon Poems by Damian Love

 Cædmon is considered to be the first known poet who wrote in the English language and worked in Whitby Abbey whilst St Hilda was the abbot there.

His only surviving work is Cædmon's Hymn, a nine-line poem praising god. A memorial to him can be found at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire.

 

19. Poems by W.H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, North Yorkshire in 1907 and later became an American Citizen.

He was a prolific poet and wrote over 400 poems, publishing several books, and was also an essayist. His most famous works include the poem Funeral Blues (more commonly known as Stop all the clocks) and The Shield of Achilles.

 

20. The History Boys by Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett was born in Armley, a district in Leeds, West Yorkshire in 1934. He has written many plays and novels and was a performer in Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

The History Boys is a play set in a boys boarding school in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and follows eight boys as they try to get in to Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the 1980s.

 

21. Teechers by John Godber

John Godber was born in Upton, West Yorkshire in 1956 and is a dramatist, best known for his observational comedies. He is a former teacher and went to the University of Leeds.

Teechers is a play-within-a-play, set in an 80s English school. It follows three students who put on a play for the end of term, exploring their education and, in particular, their time with their drama teacher.

 

22. Swim Bike Run by the Brownlee Brothers

Alistair and Johnny Brownlee were born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1988 and 1990 respectively and are Olympic triathletes. Alistair won gold at the London and Rio Olympics and Jonny won bronze and silver. They both still pursue triathlete success and reside in Bramhope, West Yorkshire.

Swim Bike Run is semi-biographical and semi-training tips, as it offers their respective stories of the 2012 London Olympics and also give tips to any budding athlete.

 

23. Neither Nowt Nor Summat by Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan was born in Darfield, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire and is a poet, playwright and broadcaster.

Neither Nowt Nor Summat:In search of the Meaning of Yorkshire is a book about Yorkshire, following Ian's journey around the county as he tries and figures out what Yorkshire actually represents and what "Being Yorkshire" really means.

 

24. South Riding by Winifred Holtby

Winifred Holtby was born in Rudston, a small village near Driffield in East Yorkshire in 1898. She was a novelist and journalist and died in 1935.

South Riding-named after the historic county of South Riding of Yorkshire-is a novel that encapsulates the changes that rural areas face, following Sarah Burton as she must sacrifice her career to look after family after the devastation of the First World War.

 

25. Richard III by William Shakespeare

Richard III was written by England's most famous writer, William Shakespeare in 1592 and has been staged and adapted countless times and is still one of his most popular historical tragedies and is the second longest play after Hamlet.

Richard III centres on Richard of York who later became the third Richard, King of England and is a loose telling of the Wars of the Roses along with Henry VI Part I, Part II and Part III, the English civil war between the Tudors of the House of Lancaster and the Plantagenets of the House of York. 

(Whilst it's accurate that Yorkshire had little to do with the house of York, we Yorkshiremen have taken it to heart to never let Lancashire get away with anything.) 

 

26. The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin

 Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was a poet laureate, but worked most of his life in libraries, especially the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull in East Yorkshire, where he worked until his death in 1985.

The Whitsun Weddings is a collection of 32 poems, and contains many of Larkin's most famous poems including The Whitsun Weddings and An Arundel Tomb.

 

27. Selected Poems by Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire in 1937 and is a poet and playwright.

This collection of his poems features over 60 of his poems, including his most well-known poem, v.

 

28. The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips

 Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts in 1958 but moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire when he was four months old, and is a novelist and playwright.

The Lost Child is based on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and tells the tale of Heathcliff's childhood prior to Emily's story, and also of the life of Monica during the Second World War and moves to the Yorkshire Moors after a failed marriage.

 

29. GB84 by David Peace

David Peace was born in Ossett, near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire in 1967 and is a novelist.

GB84 is set in Yorkshire during the Miner's Strike of the 80s in England and follows two strikingly different men: Terry Winters, the chief executive of the Miner's Union and Stephen Sweet, an adviser to the Thatcher government. It is a fictional account of the historical miner's strike and is based heavily on factual events.

 

30. God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin

 Ross Raisin was born in Keighley, Bradford in West Yorkshire and is a novelist.

"God's Own Country" is a phrase used to describe England's largest county due to its natural beauty and overall sense of the spectacular. The same-titled book is set in Yorkshire and follows rural farmer Sam Marsdyke and his battle with the world until he meets fellow loner Josephine.

 

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31. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse

 Keith Waterhouse was born in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire in 1929 and was a novelist, journalist and script writer.

Billy Liar follows the titular character William, living in the fictional town of Stradhoughton in Yorkshire, as he daydreams his way through life.

It has been adapted in to a play, a film, a musical and a television series and has a sequel, penned by Waterhouse entitled Billy Liar on the Moon.

 

32. The Journals of James Cook by James Cook

 Captain James Cook is inexorably linked with Yorkshire.

He was born in Marton-near Middlesbrough-in North Yorkshire in 1728, and lived and worked in various places in North Yorkshire, including Great Ayton, Staithes and Whitby.

He travelled all over the world in the navy and as part of exploration trips, navigating the unknown oceans and mapping them. He was the first recorded European to visit the east of Australia and Hawaii, as well as being the first to circumnavigate New Zealand.

He was killed along with four of his shipmates in Hawaii in 1779.

There is a museum dedicated to Captain Cook in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire and his old home in Great Ayton now resides in Melbourne, Australia.

 

33. Amy Johnson: Queen of the Air by Midge Gillies

 Amy Johnson was born in Kingston-upon-Hull (better known as Hull) in East Yorkshire in 1903. She was trained as a typist, but became the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia and was one of the foremost pioneering aviators of her time. She died in 1941 during a ferry flight and her body was never recovered.

Queen of the Air is a biography of Johnson, and tells of her life as an aviator and her romantic life, as well her many adventures before her fateful last flight.

 

34. The Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser

Guy Fawkes was born in York, North Yorkshire in 1570 and is best known for his part in the failed Gunpowder Plot on the 5th of November, 1605.

With other Catholics-namely Robert Catesby-he planned to assassinate James I and put a Catholic Monarch on the throne of England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. The attempt was foiled and Guy Fawkes was executed in 1606.

Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot are remembered on the 5th of November every year where his effigy is burnt on a bonfire and fireworks are set off.

 

35. Tate Introductions: Hockney

David Hockney was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1937 and is a very successful painter and designer. He attended the Bradford School of Art and was part of the Pop Art movement of the 1950s.

The Tate Introductions are a great series of books that introduce you to the life and works of famous artists, exploring their most famous works of art and sharing their stories.

 

36. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Beedle the Bard is a fictional character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Beedle was born in Yorkshire in the 15th century and had "an exceptionally luxuriant beard".

The Tales of Beedle the Bard featured heavily in the book and film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and was initially published as a limited edition of only 7 copies-with one being sold for £1.95 million-but his tales are now readily available for all to read.

 

37. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, published in 1719. Robinson Crusoe follows the titular character, who was born in York, North Yorkshire.

The book follows Crusoe as he sets out on a sea-faring adventure despite his parents warnings,and sees him become a castaway on a remote Caribbean island. Robinson Crusoe is regarding as being one of the very first English novels.

 

38. Dickie Bird 80 Not Out: My Favourite Cricket Memories by Dickie Bird

Dickie Bird-born Harold Dennis Bird in Staincross, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire in 1933- is one of the county's most enduring and loved characters.

Dickie Bird was an International Cricket Umpire for 23 years and is considered one of the all-time greats. He is a proud Yorkshireman and sits as club president for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

 

39. Possession by A. S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1936 and is a novelist and poet. She won the Booker Prize in 1990 for her novel, Possession.

Possession follows two academics as they research the history of two fictional poets, who they have discovered were romantically linked. The book is partially set in Yorkshire.

 

40. A Sackful of Limericks by Michael Palin

Michael Palin, best known for being 1/6 of the comedy group Monty Python and a prolific travel television presenter, was born in Broomhill, Sheffield in South Yorkshire.

A Sackful of Limericks is a collection of limericks-a form of poetry that are five lines in length-that Palin has written over the years.

 

41. Walking Home by Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1963 and grew up in Marsden. He is a poet and novelist.

Walking Home is a travel book following Armitage's walk down the Pennine Way in 2010 as he went penniless, performing poetry along the way. The Penine Way is usually walked South-to-North, but Armitage undertook the route backwards so that he would be walking home, back to Marsden. 

 

42. Tilly and the Time Machine by Adrian Edmondson

Adrian Edmondson was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1957 and is a comedian, actor, singer and writer. He is best known for his anarchic comedy role in The Young Ones as Vyvyan and as part of The Comic Strip Presents... comedy group, and especially for his partnership with the late Rik Mayall. He now resides in Devon with his wife, fellow The Comic Strip Presents actor Jennifer Saunders.

Tilly and the Time Machine is Edmondson's first children's novel, having already written several novels for adults. It follows Tilly and her father, who makes a Time Machine in his back garden but gets stuck in the past and it's up to Tilly to save him.

 

43. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He was born in Cheshire in 1832, but moved with his family to Croft-on-Tees, near Northallerton, in North Yorkshire when he was 11.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is his best-known and most-loved story. It follows Alice as she falls down the rabbit hole and enters Wonderland, meeting many of its wonderful and strange inhabitants.

 

44. Harriet by Jilly Cooper

Harriet is a novel by Jilly Cooper, the English author born in 1937, best known for her Rutshire Chronicles.

Harriet is a romance novel set in Yorkshire, where the titular character-after becoming pregnant by an Oxonian playboy-moves to the North in order to find work.

 

45. Common Ground by Rob Cowan

 Common Ground is a memoir, following the London-based journalist Rob Cowan's move to Harrogate, North Yorkshire. It explores the countryside and people around where he lives and how the natural and human world are connected more than we think.

 

46. A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines

Barry Hines was born in Hoyland, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire and was an author and script writer. He died in his hometown in 2016.

A Kestrel for a Knave is set in an unnamed Yorkshire mining town and tells the story of a young boy named Billy, who finds solace in a kestrel he begins to train.

 

47. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was Nottingham-born Susanna Clark's debut novel and is set in parts in Yorkshire and London.

It is an alternative history novel set in 19th century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and follows Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell, both of whom have attained magical abilities. It opens with The Learned Society of York Magicians who are stunned by Gilbert Norrell's use of magic, who makes the statues in York Minster come to life and follows Norrell and Strange as they navigate their way through a world with awakened magic.

 

48. The Spirit of Yorkshire by Batsford

Published over 80 years ago, The Batsford Guides were illustrated by Brian Cook Batsford and offered a new perspective on the rural lives of those living in England and Britain at the time. The Spirit of Yorkshire explores the land of all four corners of Yorkshire, the local people and traditions that are found there.
 

49. The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps by Michel Faber

Dutch author Michel Faber is best known for his novel The Crimson Petal and the White, but his novel The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps is set in Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast.

It is a ghostly mystery, following Siân as she joins an archaeological dig trying to unearth the secrets of the famous Hundred and Ninety-Nine steps in the seaside town of Whitby.

 

50. Room 13 by Robert Swindells

Robert Swindells was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1939 and is an author.

Room 13 is set in Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast, and follows a group of school children on a school trip who stay in a guest house on West Cliff, where they try to solve the mystery of the creepy Room 13...

 

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So there we have it, fifty books to help you celebrate Yorkshire Day with us-whether you're Yorkshire born and bred, an honourary Yorkshireman or simply love a Yorkshire Terrier. We hope you enjoy your Yorkshire Day celebrations, eat copious amounts of pie and drink Yorkshire Tea until you pass out.

Let us know in the comments which Yorkshire-inspired book is your favourite, and tell us of any we've missed from our list.

 

Fifty Books to help you celebrate Yorkshire Day, celebrate yorkshire day with this list of books

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