11 great books set in Yorkshire

02 August 2017

With its stunning natural landscapes, vibrant towns and cities packed with culture, unique local characteristics and language and huge historical significance, it's probably no surprise that Yorkshire has been the inspiration and setting for some great novels over the past few hundred years.

Here are just a few of the classics and modern day greats set in 'God's Own Country', Yorkshire.


The Year of the Runaways

The Year of the Runaways

Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life, each with their own stories and secrets they’re trying to leave behind and dreams for the future. This is Sunjeev’s highly acclaimed second novel and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015.

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A Kestrel for a Knave

This 1968 book by Barnsley-born Barry Hines follows a day in the life of Billy Casper, a young boy in a Yorkshire mining town who finds solace from his troubled home and school life through his pet kestrel. The book was adapted into a BAFTA winning film - Kes - by Ken Loach in 1969.

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If Only They Could Talk

If Only They Could Talk

To young Glaswegian James Herriot, fresh out of veterinary college, 1930's Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges for an interloper like him: from herds of semi-feral cattle and gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents. These classic memoirs from the Yorkshire vet are heartwarming and funny, showing Yorkshire at its idyllic best.

Available in Harback, as part of the Macmillan Collector's Library, as well as in Ebook format. 

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God's Own Country

The Yorkshire moors are the backdrop for Ross Raisin's debut novel. This is the vivid and darkly unsettling story of Sam Marsdyke, a smart but disturbed teenage farmer who forms a friendship with a young girl who has moved to the area. It’s written from his point of view and in strong Yorkshire dialect, and the sense of menace the bubbles away throughout is compelling.

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Sovereign

Sovereign

The third book in the hugely popular Matthew Shardlake series, Sovereign primarily takes place in York in 1541 during Henry VIII’s state visit to the North. Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak are already in the city, as a murder case pulls them into deeper mysteries around the royal family. 

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is a children’s classic beloved by generations of readers. The book tells the story of Mary Lennox, an orphan who is sent to live with her uncle at Misselthwaite Manor on the foreboding Yorkshire moors, and her discovery of the mysterious walled garden that hides within the manor’s grounds.

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South Riding

The politics, characters and culture in a Yorkshire village between the wars are explored in this novel by Winifred Holtby, best known for her friendship with fellow writer Vera Brittain. Published posthumously in 1936, South Riding is set in a fictional Yorkshire district of the same name.

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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Another classic novel that helped to give Brontë Country in West Yorkshire its name, Jane Eyre is an epic 600+ page account of Jane’s life, from young orphan to domestic bliss with Mr Rochester, through her experiences in her teaching career, bigamy, homelessness and more.

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Behind the Scenes at the Museum

This story of a young girl growing up as part of a middle-class family in York and the generations of women who came before her was the first novel by Kate Atkinson, one of today’s most acclaimed writers. The museum in the title refers to York’s Castle Museum.

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Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë only wrote one novel in her life, but what a novel it is. Her story of the passionate, and ultimately destructive love between the headstrong Catherine and brooding Healthcliff is a true classic of English literature.

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Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens is of course synonymous with fiction set in London, but a significant chunk of his third novel is set in a Yorkshire school, as Nicholas is sent to work as an assistant to the unpleasant and often violent old headmaster, Wackford Squeers.

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