Not all writers live in Suffolk, but plenty do, or did. Eric Arthur Blair was so impressed with the county that he named himself after the River Orwell. And it’s not just writers. Suffolk is a big draw for all kinds of creatives.
I can’t blame a single one of them, I concluded after a recent couple of days in Aldeburgh.
By any standards, Suffolk is attractive.
No wonder crime writer PD James bought herself a home across the market square in Southwold. The other Queen of Crime, Ruth Rendell, was also based in Suffolk.
Even villages that aren’t chocolate-box pretty are picturesque.
An estimated 375 of them have ornate village signs. That’s more than any other county (except Norfolk).
It’s not a through-route to anywhere, unless you’re heading out to sea. Maybe that’s why it’s resistant to motorways and vapid trends. Walk through any Suffolk town and you’ll find a retro vibe. Policemen know everyone, tractors roam the streets, and small shops still do a busy trade.
But it’s not Hicksville. It’s a hive of culture. Check out Snape Maltings and the Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten.
The light is amazing, as artists soon discover. Even if you don’t paint or sketch, it’s uplifting to be outside. I can’t do the sky justice, so here’s a photo taken by a river estuary.
It’s easy to clear your head because the air is so bracing. For most of the winter, the wind blows in straight from the Urals.
Stroll along the beach, and you might find it comforting to watch fishermen sitting patiently on the shingle in the rain. Especially if you have somewhere warm to go back to.
Writing fiction? There’s plenty of inspiration for intrigue, from the Martello towers dotted along the coast to the nuclear reactor at Sizewell.
See the guy at the top? This isn’t someone about to go over the edge. It’s an Antony Gormley statue.
But what if, despite the odds, you have writer’s block in the middle of your magnum opus?
Just compose a limerick about Suffolk instead.