5 inspiring literary figures who lived or worked in Lewes and the surrounding area

A man sits cross-legged in a field smiling as he reads a book.

East Sussex may be most famous for its historical landmarks, but did you know that the county also has plenty of literary links too?

Some of the most famous writers in British history have lived or worked locally, so you don’t need to travel far to discover some of the hidden gems linking the town of Lewes to our literary greats.

Read on to discover some of the literary gems that you could visit this summer in Lewes and the surrounding area.

1. Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is best known for writing novels, short stories, and essays including Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own. She is credited with first popularising the use of the “stream-of-consciousness” style of writing, which was highly innovative at the time.

Along with her husband Leonard, a political theorist and author himself, Woolf lived in Lewes for many years. Their home, Monk House, is a 17th-century cottage located on the River Ouse. You can follow a circular walking route from Lewes railway station to view the cottage.

2. A A Milne

A A Milne is famous for his books about Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and the Hundred Acre Wood. The setting for the tales was inspired by the beautiful Ashdown Forest, just a 30-minute drive from Lewes.

The author lived at the edge of the forest and found endless inspiration from the landscape.

Today, you can visit Ashdown Forest and seek out some of the famous landmarks mentioned in the books, including Pooh Sticks Bridge, Galleon’s Lap, Roo’s Sandy Pit, and the Heffalump Trap.

While you’re there, make sure you also pay a visit to Pooh Corner in Hartfield. This is the famous sweetshop frequented by A A Milne and Christopher Robin, and today it’s a museum, café, and gift shop dedicated to Pooh and his friends. It’s the perfect day out for fans of Milne’s beloved stories.

3. Henry James

Henry James was an American author, famous for his novels including The Turn of the Screw and The Portrait of a Lady. Though he was born in America, he later settled in England, and spent many years in Rye, East Sussex. He became an English citizen in the early 1900s.

You can learn more about his incredible life by visiting his home, Lamb House, which is managed by the National Trust.

4. Rudyard Kipling

You probably know Rudyard Kipling as the author of The Jungle Book, but did you know that he was also the first English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Kipling was born in India and was inspired by his early years in the country to write his famous children’s story The Jungle Book. Later on in life, he moved to the south coast of England, eventually settling in Burwash, East Sussex.

Today, you can visit his home – a Grade I listed building – which is managed by the National Trust.

5. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Mary Shelley was a prolific political writer throughout her life, inspired by her parents’ views and her husband, the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

She is most famous, though, for creating one of the earliest examples of science fiction writing in her famous gothic novel Frankenstein at the age of just 20.

Though she spent much of her life travelling in Europe with her husband and their friends, she spent the later years of her life in England and is laid to rest in Bournemouth. You can visit her grave in St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth.

Get in touch

Our friendly team of financial planners is based in Lewes, Sussex. We’re here to help you manage your finances and plan your retirement with confidence.

Please get in touch by emailing us at financial@barwells-wealth.co.uk or by phone on 01273 086 311.

Please note

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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