Shropshire town, 13 miles N of Church Stretton.
In his novel Howard's End (1910) E. M Forster (1879-1970) refers to Shrewsbury as the astonishing city .It remains astonishing to this day, in spite of the ravages of developers and so-called planners in the 1950's and 1960's, for its wealth of mediaeval and Tudor buildings, for its great sense of history and, above all, for its situation in an almost circular loop of the River Severn. Not surprisingly then many famous, and infamous, figures have arrived at this county town over the centuries and among them have been writers, many of whom are listed here.
Thomas Churchyard (1520-1604), poet, soldier and courtier, was born in Shrewsbury.
The poet Philip Sidney (1554-1586) as a child was sent to Shrewsbury School where he quickly made friends with fellow pupil Fulke Greville (1554-1628), author and nobleman.
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) visited the town on one of his tours and described his impressions of the place.
Celia Fiennes (1662-1741) visited Shrewsbury in 1698.
Arthur Mainwaring (1668-1712), poet and critic, was born in Shropshire, at Ightfield, and was educated at Shrewsbury School.
Ambrose Philips (c. 1675-1749) was a controversial poet born in Shrewsbury and educated, like so many others, at Shrewsbury School.
George Farquahar (1678-1707) visited Shrewsbury as an army officer and set his play The Recruiting Officer (1706) in the town.
John Wesley (1703-1791) visited and preached in Shrewsbury on several occasions. On his first visit he preached from 1 Fish Street a building which is now called Wesley House.
Job Orton (1717-1783) was born in Shrewsbury, educated at Shrewsbury School and was yet another influential figure to be connected with the High Street Unitarian Church.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was in Shrewsbury in 1797 as a locum at the High Street Unitarian Church.
Charles Hulbert (1778-1857) came to Shrewsbury from Manchester, ran a cotton factory and turned to literature both as a writer and as a publisher and printer.
The naturalist and poet John F. N. Dovaston (1782-1854) was born and brought up at West Felton, situated between Shrewsbury and Oswestry. His schooling was mainly in the latter town but he did attend Shrewsbury School for a time.
Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) stayed at The Lion Hotel and passed a very restless night in that establishment.
Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845) was author of the Ingoldsby Legends (1840), under the pseudonym of Thomas Ingoldsby. He he perpetuated the name of the famous Shrewsbury Cake in the story of "Bloudie Jack". The shop where the they were first made, Pailin's cake shop, stood on the corner of Castle Street and School Gardens. A plaque commemorates the shop and Barham's story.
William Henry West Betty (1791-1874) the famous child actor was born in the town, the son of a farmer from Hopton Wafers.
Charles Burney (1726-1814), author and musician, was born in Raven Street (later to become Castle Street).
Mrs E. J. Burbury, novelist, had connections with Shrewsbury and knew the headmaster of the Royal Free Grammar School in the middle 1800s.
F. Bayford Harrison, 19th century novelist, set his novel The Battlefield treasure in Battlefield and central areas of Shrewsbury.
David Simons (19th century), was an aspiring Welsh poet who made himself unpopular, to say the least, with his scurrilous newspaper in Shrewsbury.
Sir John Bickerton Williams (1792-1855) collected sermons and wrote biographies related to his fervent non-conformist beliefs. Born at West Felton, he practised as an attorney in Shrewsbury and became mayor of the town in 1836.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the important American writer, visited in 1855 and stayed at The Lion Hotel.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), the great statesman and novelist, was M.P. for Shrewsbury from 1841 to 1847.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was born at Mount House and educated at a school at 13 Claremont Hill and later Shrewsbury School. His statue stands outside the old school buildings at Castle Gates (now Shrewsbury Library).
Robert Williams (1810-1881), the Celtic scholar and author, was educated at Shrewsbury School. He entered the church and was incumbent at several parishes around Oswestry before becoming Vicar of Culmington, south Shropshire, from 1879 until his death.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) also stayed at The Lion Hotel and performed at the Music Hall on three occasions.
Eliza Meteyard (1816-1879) was born in Shrewsbury.
W.S. Symonds (1818-1887), novelist, based part of his novel Hanley Castle in Shrewsbury.
William Walsham How (1823-1897), author and hymn writer, was born at College Hill and educated at Shrewsbury School.
Samuel Butler (1835-1902) was educated at Shrewsbury School, as was Stanley Weyman (1855-1928), the novelist who spent most of his life in Ludlow.
The novelist Lester Ralph (1878-1936) taught at the Priory School for Boys from 1914 onwards.
Desmond Coke (1879-1959) was educated at Shrewsbury School and recalled it in one of his stories for boys.
Mary Webb (1881-1927), Shropshire's own novelist and poet, had a stall in the market for a time during the First World War. She lived at Meole Brace on the outskirts of the town and obviously knew and loved Shrewsbury, which she called Silverton in her novels. She is buried in Shrewsbury cemetery.
Neville Cardus (1889-1975), the music critic and cricket writer spent four happy years at Shrewsbury School, from 1912 as assistant cricket coach and from 1914 as secretary to the headmaster.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), possibly the finest of all war poets, spent the latter part of his childhood and his teenage years living in Shrewsbury with his parents at 1 Cleveland Place and, later, 71 Monkmoor Road. A sculpture entitled "Symmetry" was unveiled in 1993 in the grounds of Shrewsbury Abbey in honour of the poet and was inspired by his poem Strange meeting.
Ernest George Lee (1896-?), author of religious works and a novel was minister at the High Street Unitarian Church in the 1930's.
Frances Eagar (died 1978) lived latterly at Ingram's Hall, The Schools. She wrote a number of children's stories which were published in the 1970's including Time tangle (1976).
There is a memorial in Shrewsbury Abbey to the novelist Edith Pargeter (1913-1995), who was born and lived all her life in Shropshire. She has renewed interest in the history of the town through her series of Brother Cadfael novels which are set in Shrewsbury Abbey in the 12th century.
Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978) taught at Shrewsbury School and wrote detective novels under the name Edmund Crispin.
Gavin Gibbons (1922-1978) was educated at Shrewsbury School and made his home in Shrewsbury.
Writers currently living in and around Shrewsbury include John Waddington-Feather (1933- ) and the poets Peter Reading (1946- ) and Simon Fletcher (1958- ).
Location map of Shrewsbury courtesy of Streetmap.co.uk
Page created 1 October 2002 and last updated
16 September 2008
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