Fiction set in the Yorkshire Dales
Artist Ian Scott Massie has collected a series of tales and folklore and illustrated them with his beautiful and distinctive style for Tales of the Dales. Colin Speakman also gathers together local stories into Legends of the Yorkshire Dales.
The Yorkshire Dales are peaceful and fairly crime-free and yet the area has somehow inspired a myriad of crime-writers. Susan Parry lives in Swaledale which she uses as her setting for her series of mysteries, peppered with local details such as details of lead-mining in the past.
There are yet more deaths in Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton Detective series, all set in Yorkshire in the 1920s including Murder on a Summer's Day (around Bolton Abbey), A Death in the Dales (Langcliffe), and Death in the Stars (Giggleswick and Settle).
Peter Robinson’s best seller Before the Poison is an atmospheric and suspenseful standalone novel centred on Richmond, Peter Robinson being creator of the famous TV detective DCI Banks. Fans of James Herriot's tomes and 'All Creatures Great and Small' will need no reminder that Richmond is also in the depths of Herriot Country where Alf Wight OBE (James Herriot) practised his veterinary work. But do you know that Richmondshire Museum has a another real connection with Herriot Country? It houses part of the original set from the 'All Creatures Great and Small' film.
I wonder if there's something about the area around Settle and the Three Peaks because it's also inspired another thriller, The Penyghent Blood by Roger Ratcliffe.
After all that crime, you'll probably be ready for something a little more upbeat such as Mary Jane Baker's romantic comedies set in the Dales - the Love in the Dales series including A Bicycle Made for Two and The Perfect Fit.
Children will enjoy Strange Tales in the Dales by avid storyteller Irene Lofthouse who takes original stories and re-imagines them to awake the curiosity. Also for children are the stories of Little Alf by local author Hannah Russell, inspired by her miniature Shetland living in Wensleydale.
Many authors have given their accounts of life in the Yorkshire Dales. Some have become so loved, their works have become collectors' items and much-prized social history. WR Mitchell, or Bill as many knew him, was prolific. He loved people and their stories, and spent much of his life interviewing and collecting tales which give some marvellous insights. Yorkshire represents a time gone by, captured in a fascinating collection of interviews he conducted. His Folk Tales on the Settle-Carlisle Railway remains a popular volume. You can listen to some of his interviews thanks to this archive and the work of Settle Stories.
For fantastic social history dip into Marie Hartley & Joan Ingilby's Life & Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Cottage by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley as welll as Swaledale, and Wensleydale.
Sheep farmer, Amanda Owen is not continuing the tradition of documenting and recounting farming life in the Yorkshire Dales with The Yorkshire Shepherdess and A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess. Neil Hanson gives a completely different insight into life in the Dales with The Inn at the Top, his account of the trials and tribulations of life as the landlord at Tan Hill, England's Highest Inn.
Landscape, geology and nature
I bought Haytime in the Yorkshire Dales edited by Don Gamble & Tanya St. Pierre some time ago and still love to dip into the pictures and descriptions of our wonderful flower-rich hay meadows. It covers their biodiversity, traditional farming methods and how they’ve inspired creative people for generations.
Swaledale: Valley of the River by Andrew Fleming is a great book if you’re interested in the history and geology of the landscape, similarly David Johnson’s full history Ingleborough: Landscape and History.
The Dales of Yorkshire: a Portrait by Richard Muir gives insightful accounts of how these much-loved landscapes were created over millions of years, how the market towns, villages and hamlets originated, the history of the churches and monasteries and the meaning of place names.
The Dales landscapes have inspired countless photographers. These two books were recommended - you may wish to add more in the comments below. Open Fell, Hidden Dale by Eliza Forder & John Forder shows beautiful black and white photographs of life in the Dales, and the Dales landscapes themselves, with insightful writing by Arthur Raistrick. Hill Shepherd by John Forder & Eliza Forder has evocative photographs of hill farmers, landscapes, sheep, and great scenery.
Where do we start, where do we finish with a list of great guides to the Yorkshire Dales? Perhaps the easiest is to mention a few local authors and leave you to add your favourites? Look for guide books by Colin Speakman, Mark Reid, Chris Grogan and Jonathan Smith.
So it's wonderful to be able to bring you some excellent news. Books and bookshops are flourishing!
It started with a whisper. Gill at one of my favourite bookshops, the Little Ripon Bookshop said they might be about to become a bit bigger. They've now expanded into the next door premises. I'll repeat that. An independent shop on a high street is expanding! How often do you hear that kind of news? Not only that, but this is a business that can teach Amazon a trick or two about quick service and personalised recommendations. Within a couple of visits, Gill had sussed out my tastes and has since introduced me to a myriad of fantastic authors. Order a book from them and you can usually pick it up the next day.
The Stripey Badger opened recently in Grassington and also has a cafe next door so you can enjoy the heady combination of culture and cake. What more could anyone want? Well obviously, there are no limits to how many books a true bibliophile can hoard. If that sounds like you, you could do worse than head to Sedbergh, England's book town where you'll find the wonderful Westwood Books and several other great book shops or shops that sell books among other items.
Castle Hill Bookshop in Richmond has an excellent collection of books about the local area and helps to organise the Richmond Walking and Book Festival together with Swaledale Outdoor Club and a team of volunteers.
Do you have a favourite book shop in or near the Yorkshire Dales? Or a book about or set in the Yorkshire Dales? Would love to hear about it - please add details in the comments below.