Writers who made their home in this part of the world include Robert Tressell, whose book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was inspired by the conditions of Hastings workmen, and great romantic novelist Catherine Cookson, who worked in the town for years and was a founding member of Hastings Writers Group.
Alice in Wonderland creator Lewis Carroll was a frequent visitor to the town as his aunt lived in Wellington Square. H Rider Haggard, who wrote She and King Solomon’s Mines lived in Burton St Leonards.
Once fascinating character was Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, who lived in Milward Crescent. Belaney headed off to Canada where he assumed the identity of a native American, living and writing under the name of Grey Owl.
He was a fur trapper and conservationist. Recognition of Belaney has included biographies, a historic plaque at his birthplace, a Hastings road name and a 1999 biopic about his life by the director Richard Attenborough.
A notorious Hastings resident was writer and Satanist Aleister Crowley, who lived in a guest house on the Ridge. He was dubbed ‘The Great Beast’.
Ford Madox Ford, who wrote The Good Soldier, lived in Winchelsea, while Rye, just down the road, was home to E F Benson, whose Mapp and Lucia series was made into a series for the BBC, and Henry James, who wrote Turn of the Screw. Both were former Mayors of Rye.
More recently, best selling fantasy author David Gemmell lived in Hastings and worked as a journalist for the Hastings Observer, while London writer and psycho geographer Iain Sinclair has a home in St Leonards and has included the town in his work.
Have you read? Don’t miss these big events happening in Hastings this year.