Culture & History 27 May 2022

Guernsey for Literary Lovers

The Islands of Guernsey have been a source of inspiration for artists and writers since the 1800s.

Perhaps the most famous book written by an islander is ‘The Book of Ebenezer Le Page’ by GB Edwards. An acclaimed piece of literature, it has also been praised for its depiction of life on Guernsey in the 20th century. Guernsey also provided inspiration for the novel, 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society', which was made into a major international film starring Lily James in 2018.

One of our most loved previous residents is 'Les Misérables' author Victor Hugo, who fell in love with the islands of Guernsey during his 15 years in political exile. Hugo wrote many of his most famous pieces whilst living on the island. Declaring Guernsey “the rock of hospitality and freedom” in his dedication of 'Les Travailleurs de la Mer', many consider his time in the Bailiwick to be his most productive writing period. In fact, Hugo himself famously declared; “A month’s work here is worth a year in Paris.” Hugo worked from his Guernsey home, Hauteville House, which is now a popular tourist attraction in St. Peter Port. The home was recently completely refurbished in 2019.  The house is a fascinating place, filled with quirky details of his creative personality. It also provides great insight into where he pulled his inspiration from for his hugely popular pieces of work.

During his free time, Hugo would often walk around Guernsey’s outstanding, picturesque coastline. This wasn't simply an exercise for leisure - the island’s rugged cliffs and coves served as inspiration for many of his works.

Want to walk in the footsteps of a literary legend, and possibly find a little inspiration for yourself? Here are some ideas:

 

The Islands also play host to some fantastic literary events for book lovers. The Guernsey Literary Festival is fast-becoming a must-see event in the literary world with previous speakers such as Clare Balding, Sebastian Faulks, Michael Morpurgo, Matt Haig, Richard Dawkins, Ben Fogle and Katie Piper. The Festival also boasts extensive education, family and community programmes, as well as workshops for local writers with top visiting authors.  Events are taking place in St Peter Port from 2nd to 14th May 2023.

View the full itinerary at guernseyliteraryfestival.com.

 

 

The island of Alderney also has an annual literary festival. This year, led by Roman military novelist and Festival Chairman Anthony Riches, the Festival celebrates all aspects of historical writing, offering something for everyone. This year, authors such as Julia Boyd, Jacquie Bloese, Carl Graves, Helen Castor and Christina Exrahi will be visiting the island to speak. The Alderney Literary Festival of Historical Literature takes place at the Island Hall, Alderney from 17th-19th March 2023. Visit alderneyliterarytrust.com for full details on upcoming events.

Why not make a weekend of it?

For accommodation just a stone’s throw away from the action in Guernsey, The Old Government House Hotel is Guernsey’s only 5 star hotel and is located right in the heart of St. Peter Port. Their sister hotel, the Duke of Richmond, is also a great choice with a large terrace perfect for afternoon tea with a view, just a stone's throw away from the centre. If you are looking for the personal touch in a boutique, independent hotel, look no further than the La Fregate with its award-winning restaurant perched over the harbour. All boast fantastic island views.

On Herm, The White House Hotel faces St. Peter Port on Guernsey and boasts an impressive sunset view most evenings. 

On Sark, Stocks Hotel has a cosy lounge, or Smuggler’s Bar where you can curl up with a book and a tipple after a day of exploration.

On Alderney, The Blonde Hedgehog and The Georgian House are perfectly located for shops, restaurants and literary events or you can opt for coastal luxury and uninterrupted sea views at Braye Beach.

In terms of shopping and day-to-day activities for book lovers, The Lexicon in St Peter Port is a large book & art supply shop. You will also find a secondhand bookstore in the arcade in the town centre. Priaulx Library is a treasure trove of Guernsey history-specific literature and records. The Guille-Alles Library is also the centre of many island activities for book lovers. Find it in Market Square. On Alderney, The Bookshop serves locals and visitors well with a friendly face.

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