Published: Wednesday 16th Oct 2019
Written by: Home From Home Team
The Brontes succeeded in putting Yorkshire on the map as a cultural and literary tourist destination. Thomas Hardy did the same for Wessex. After all, what better way than to get under the skin of an area and examine its history and the connections between people and place, than reading about it on the pages of books and then exploring the physical locations mentioned in the stories.
We’ve got our own literary hot-spots here in Gower and a range of books and authors that can offer another dimension to your holiday experience while you’re here.
Of course, everyone’s heard of Swansea’s most famous literary son, Dylan Thomas but did you know that eight of the ten stories in ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog’ (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) are set in and around what he called the ‘sea-port of Swansea?’ Follow in his footsteps and visit locations such as Worm’s Head, the setting for ‘Who Do You Wish Was With Us?’ or take the bus across Gower as he does in ‘Extraordinary Little Cough’.
But there are more, historical and contemporary figures, bringing the physical landscape and locations of Gower alive on the page and setting people and their stories in this rich backdrop.
- The Rebeccca Rioter (Honno) – a novel published in 1880 by Amy Dillwyn, a pioneering industrialist and politician which tells of the toll gate struggles. Locate the places she pin-points in the book: Upper Killay, the commons, woods and moors to the west, the spine of Gower’s highest point, Cefn Bryn, Penrice Castle, Oxwich, and along the rugged limestone cliffs to Mumbles.
- Real Swansea 1, Real Swansea 2, Real Gower (Seren) – three very accessible psychogeographies by the late, great Gower poet and pyschogeographer, Nigel Jenkins, which offer the author’s deep and personal insights into Swansea and Gower.
- Black Apples of Gower (Little Toller) – a wonderful non-fiction book by Iain Sinclair in which he revisits the walks of his youth, starting in Horton and rediscovering memories and reminiscing along the south Gower cliffs, including a stop off at the world-renown, Paviland Cave.
- Wild Abandon (Penguin) – a quirky novel about a family and commune set in Gower by award-winning Swansea writer, Joe Dunthorne.
- The Mystical Milestone (Y Lolfa) – a novel by Peter Griffiths, set against the back drop of Rhossili Down which explores the legend of St Cenydd, carved in wood on the lych gate of the church in Llangennith.
- Too Close to Home (Arrow) – a novel by Susan Lewis which captures the physical beauty of Gower and portrays it as a place of healing. Set in Rhossili with numerous locations throughout the peninsula.
- The South Westerlies (Salt) – a collection of short stories by Gower author, Jane Fraser, unified by Gower’s geography and the tone of the south-westerly wind. A wide cast of characters with different relationships with their physical surroundings. As seen to the left - available at www.janefraserwriter.com
To move further afield, and explore more English-language novels set in Wales, www.literaryatlas.wales is a wonderful interactive resource that literally places people and stories on the map.