Inspiration from “desolation”

This week, a member of The House of Lords has been condemned for describing the North East of England as “desolate.” The comments have caused uproar amongst people who live in and/or love this beautiful part of the country.

I have taken much inspiration from the places and landscapes of the North East. Most recently I shared this photo, taken while out walking, writing at the time, There was a little bit of information there about what this structure had once been and who had lived there, but not much, and it was left to me to make up my own story about the inhabitants and how they lived, whether a historically accurate telling or a tale of fantasy. Characters and stories can emerge fully formed from a place like this, as the mysteries surrounding it allow the imagination to take over. All this from simply turning down a certain path while walking.

Hollinside Manor

People from across the region have been sharing their own photos of the “desolate” North East. So, along with showing one of my own, I thought I would highlight some of the many authors who have also found inspiration from the rich history and dramatic landscapes of this area. The obvious one that springs to mind is Catherine Cookson, born in South Tyneside, who wrote many novels set in rural Northumberland, the city of Newcastle, and the coastal towns around the banks of the River Tyne. Playwright Lee Hall, from Newcastle, is famous for his tale of a northern boy, Billy Elliott, as well as his play The Pitman Painters, inspired by a group of miners in a Northumberland town. And one of the most dramatic sights of the North East landscape, the Roman construction Hadrian’s Wall, has inspired authors like Rosemary Sutcliff, the author of children’s books set on the wall, and George R. R. Martin, who has revealed that Hadrian’s Wall was the inspiration behind his fictional creation The Wall of ice, which features in the Game of Thrones series.


Please add more famous names if any spring to mind, and let me know of your favourite inspirational places (either in the North East or anywhere in the world).


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