The Hilltop Writers

A Victorian Colony among the Surrey Hills

Literary Heritage around Haslemere

by W.R. (Bob) Trotter
Published by The Book Guild – ISBN 1-85776-108-1
price £15

New illustrated edition published in 2003

Index to the 65 names featured in the book

Some Highlights:—


These are some of the many fascinating and sometimes surprising pieces of information contained in Bob Trotter’s new book ‘The Hilltop Writers — a Victorian colony among the Surrey Hills,’ which reveals the lives of 65 local Victorian writers.
Mr Trotter discovered in the archives of Haslemere Museum a remarkable collection of notes and newspaper cuttings left by local journalist William Sillick, who died in 1955. It made him realise what an astounding flurry of important literary activity there had been in the neighbourhood of Haslemere during the fifty years or more following the arrival of the railway in 1859, and from this the book was conceived.
Some of the writers he deals with are well-known—people such as Alfred Tennyson, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle and George Bernard Shaw. Others less so, but equally fascinating. Collectively they came to this area for similar reasons—for the beauty and health offered by the wild and, as then, uninhabited uplands, now for the first time within easy reach of London. And for similar reasons they left—when too many people had followed their example and the place began to become more populated!
The book is organised into four main sections: a brief local chronology from 1859 through to the start of the First World War; a short discussion of the politics and other issues in vogue during the period; biographical notes on each of the writers; and an appendix of references and other more general notes, including a superb 20-page index.
It is a pleasure to read. Bob Trotter has not only encapsulated the essentials of these people’s lives in his pages, but also given us the benefit of his medical training to add his own fascinating personal comments. And in these days of generally slap-dash editing, it is nice for once to find a book where so much care and attention has obviously been taken in checking presentation and content before publication.
This book is required reading for anyone interested in local history—it will certainly become one of the better-used items on my reference shelf.

John Owen Smith—August 1996

Index to 65 entries in 'The Hilltop Writers'

See also other local history books of this area
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