In honour of National Read a Book day, 6th September, we are paying tribute to two wonderful writers whose writing or lives were lightly or heavily influenced by their time in our great city.
450 million copies sold, translated into at least 68 languages and a film franchise worth over £7 billion, there aren’t many parts of the world where Harry Potter is not a household name.
What some households here might not be aware of is that Exeter played some part in flourishing this writers’ roots.
Though she only lived here for the duration of her degree (French with Greek and German), she brought her memory of Gandy Street to life as the infamous Diagon Alley in the best-selling book series of all time.
Though many of us may know his work through its popular adaptations in recent years (who doesn’t love a Muppets Christmas Carol?!), Charles Dickens was actually regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.
His association with Exeter is less known than that of JK Rowling’s, but his time here turned out to be significant for how his life played out, and indeed provided some inspiration for some of his stories.
On the life front, he met his wife, Catherine Hogarth, during a visit here and they married in 1836, going on to have 10 children. Dickens also decided that Exeter would be a great place for his parents to live. Leasing Mile End Cottage, which you can still drive past on Church Road in Alphington, for his parents and their youngest son, he went so far as to say he would be “grievously disappointed” if they were not pleased with it.
Finally, the Turks Head came to be a place of inspiration for characters in his novels, such as The Fat Boy in Pickwick Papers. For those of you scratching your heads wondering where the Turks Head is, it’s now a Prezzo on the high street!