Historic Literary Ladies of England


By Glynn Burrows, Norfolk Tours UK


Glynn Burrows, historian and owner of Norfolk Tours UK, discusses some of England’s historically noteworthy women in literature including: Beatrix Potter, Anna Sewell, and Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte on Big Blend Radio.


In the past, women have often enjoyed much less publicity than men; that was the way of the world I’m afraid, but there have been several women who have made an impression on the literary history of this country.

One of the favourite authors from my childhood is a lady who wrote about animals as if they were people and gave them real personalities. Who can’t love Peter Rabbit and who doesn’t feel compassion for Jemima Puddleduck? Beatrix Potter was from an affluent family and, it seems that, because of her upbringing, educated by a governess and not mixing with other children, she started writing, drawing upon her childhood experiences, spending lots of time with pets and animals as friends. After her early books flew off the shelves, Miss Potter decided to spend her earnings on land and property. She was living in the Lake District and could see how the area was changing – and not for the better. Married in 1913 to a local Solicitor, she and her husband continued to purchase farms and land and when they died, their bequests to The National Trust, formed the basis of what we know as The Lake District National Park.

One of my other favourite authoresses is a local Norfolk woman, born in Great Yarmouth, Anna Sewell. Although Anna wrote several poems and her mother also wrote books, Anna’s only published book is a world-wide best seller. Anna was very active in charitable work for the poor but she is best known for her work with animals, especially horses. She had a fall when she was about 14 and it was badly repaired, leaving her unable to walk far. She relied heavily on horses, as she travelled in a small carriage and one of her campaigns was to stop the use of cruel bits.

Anna wrote Black Beauty in her home in Catton, in Norfolk, looking out over the meadows opposite. Her health deteriorated sharply and she died just five months after the book was published. Most children know the story and have seen either television adaptations or series based on this fantastic tale but, for me, this brings back memories of my childhood. When I was little my dad always used to read my sister and I a couple of pages from our copy of Black Beauty before we went to bed, so thinking about Anna Sewell and Black Beauty always takes me back to those days in the ’60s.

My last choice of Historic women of England for this time, is not a member of the royal family, not a leader of an army, nor a war heroine. This woman wasn’t from Norfolk and isn’t just one woman, in fact, my last choices are the three Bronte sisters! Charlotte, Emily and Anne, with their brother Branwell, lost their mother when they were still very young children and they were brought up by their aunt. All three girls became teachers and governesses and Charlotte and Emily went to Belgium to improve their French but returned to their Yorkshire home when their aunt died. All three sisters were writers, with two of their works remaining on the best selling lists even a hundred and fifty years after they were written. Branwell died of Tuberculosis, aged 31, after some years of addiction, the three sisters died aged 28, 29 and 39 and none of them had children. How often do we find that the lives of creative people are cut short or filled with tragedy. The Bronte family had more than their fair share of both. The house they lived in is open to the public and is in the beautiful village of Haworth in the Yorkshire Moors.

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England. For help or advice about tracing your family history, or if you are thinking about taking a vacation to England visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk





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About the Author:

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England. He can help you with advice about tracing your family history, or if you are thinking about taking a vacation to England.

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