Literary Northumberland

Thanks to iconic landscapes and beautiful buildings, Northumberland is the go-to place for many authors and directors when thinking of the perfect setting for their books and films.

Arguably the most famous of all Northumberland-based fiction is crime writer Ann Cleeves' DCI Vera Stanhope series. The books showcase the area very well - despite the grisly topic! - and the series has been a source of travel inspiration for many readers. Now a popular drama series on ITV, Vera has found many a crime scene (fictional, of course!) around Hadrian’s Wall and the TV crew is often seen filming in spots along the Northumberland coast, such as the beloved port villages of Amble and Craster.

Mari Hannah’s books take you to places such as Bamburgh, where the beautiful beach and well-known Bamburgh Castle (pictured) take on a very dark appearance. Her latest novel The Death Messenger has the series detective DS Matthew Ryan and DCI O’Neill travelling up and down the North East coast.

A great place to discover local authors and those who use the North East in their books is the Newcastle book festival, Books on Tyne. Now in its seventh year, this week-long celebration of books and writing is the product of a partnership between Newcastle Libraries and the Lit & Phil.

With family-friendly events and high-brow literary discussions, there’s something for everyone. Both Mari and Ann will be at the festival talking about their latest books and how they use Northumberland and the North East in their work.

Another couple of interesting authors of note are Helen Steadman and Mick Herron.

Steadman’s novel Widdershins explores the North East witch trials of the seventeenth century, and ponders: ‘Did all women have something of the witch about them?’ All we’ll say is be thankful you don’t live in the North East during the 1650s!

Mick Herron is a local lad from the region, who writes spy thrillers set in London. Winner of the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger award for his novel 2013 Dead Lions, Herron has been credited by the Sunday Express as having ‘revitalised the spy thriller genre’.

It really is worth going to a local event, whether it be Books on Tyne, Newcastle Noir, or individual author events around the region. Even if you’re not a bibliophile, Northumberland has many literary locations to explore and you always discover something new about the region when you do. That’s good news for locals and visitors alike!

Discover more at the book-loving blog, The Book Trail