The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory, Hardback

The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory Hardback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Village rectories, the traditional family homes of church ministers, have had a long association with writers in Britain.

For many, the Georgian rectory nestling against an historic church immediately evokes a scene from a Jane Austen novel, for others it conjures up something much darker, the parsonage at Haworth where the Bronte sisters were confined.

In this engaging book, Deborah Alun-Jones selects a range of authors from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first, for whom the rectory was either the childhood home that nurtured their creative talent or the place they chose to live as an adult and from which they drew inspiration.

Each chapter explores the life of a writer during the time they lived at a particular rectory/ parsonage or vicarage and the effect it had on them.

The story is often heartwarming, with amateur theatricals and games of tennis, but in several cases it is a tale where the serene exterior belies the tensions within but it was those very tensions that yielded some of our greatest poetry and literature.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 208 pages, 75 illustrations, 12 in colour
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: literary
  • ISBN: 9780500516775



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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is both light and engaging, whilst having some genuinely interesting facts about eight rectories and ten famous families. The theme holding it together is the effect of living in a rectory upon writers; the surfeit of families to buildings is caused by two of them living, at different eras, in the same property.Most of the chapters are more concerned with the people than the architectural construct and it is in providing vignettes of the lives of the author and their families that Deborah Alun-Jones excels. One of the combinations explored is that of John Betjeman at The Old Rectory, Farnborough. I have, recently, read a biography of Betjeman and whilst, in just twenty-four, lavishly illustrated, pages, one could not expect the detail of a five hundred page book, this rending brought Betjeman to life.The greatest compliment that I can pay to a book, such as this, is that it has made me keen to explore the lives of its subjects in greater detail.