Whitby and the East Coast

Whitby has a strong literary tradition and can even be said that the earliest English literature comes from Whitby as Cædmon, the first known Anglo Saxon poet was a monk at the order that used Whitby Abbey during the abbacy of St. Hilda (657–680).   Part of Bram Stoker‘s novel Dracula was set in Whitby, incorporating pieces of local folklore, including the beaching of the Russian ship Dmitri. Stoker discovered the name “Dracula” at the old public library. One scholar has suggested that Stoker chose Whitby as the site of Dracula’s first appearance in England because of the Synod of Whitby, given the novel’s preoccupation with timekeeping and calendar disputes.  Elizabeth Gaskell set her novel Sylvia’s Loverspartly in the town which she visited in 1859 and Lewis Carroll stayed at 5, East Terrace between July and September 1854: his first publications may have been published in the Whitby Gazette.

Charles Dickens is known to have visited Whitby and in a letter of 1861 to his friend Wilkie Collins, who was at the time in Whitby, Dickens says:

In my time that curious railroad by the Whitby Moor was so much the more curious, that you were balanced against a counter-weight of water, and that you did it like Blondin. But in these remote days the one inn of Whitby was up a back-yard, and oyster-shell grottoes were the only view from the best private room.

Wilkie Collins stayed in Whitby to work on his novel, No Name. He was accompanied by Caroline Graves, the inspiration for The Woman in White.    Mary Linskill was born in a small house at Blackburn’s Yard in 1840. She reached a wide readership when her second novel, Between the Heather and the Northern Sea, was published in 1884. Her last novel For Pity’s Sake, was published posthumously in 1891.   James Russell Lowell, the American writer, visited Whitby while ambassador in London 1880–85, staying at 3 Wellington Terrace, West Cliff.   On his last visit in 1889, he wrote:

This is my ninth year at Whitby and the place loses none of its charm for me.

G. P. Taylor, a former Church of England curate in Whitby, is now a celebrated author. His best-selling book Shadowmancer was set in Whitby.

The novel Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt set in the town was adapted into a 2002 feature film called Possession starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

A crime novel series by James Whitworth is set in Whitby. The first two novels are Death’s Disciple and The Eve of Murder.

A trilogy of young adult novels, The Whitby Witches, makes much of the town’s setting and history, embellishing local traditions whilst incorporating them into the narrative. The author, Robin Jarvis, recalls “The first time I visited Whitby, I stepped off the train and knew I was somewhere very special. It was a grey, drizzling day but that only added to the haunting beauty and lonely atmosphere of the place. Listening to Carmina Burana on my headphones, I explored the ruined abbey on the clifftop. The place was a fantastic inspiration. In the Whitby Witches I have interwoven many of the existing local legends, such as the frightening Barguest, whilst inventing a few of my own, most notably the aufwaders.”


Scarborough boasts a fine selection of attractions including acclaimed museums and art galleries, a historic mini railway and spectacular headland castle, beach bays and watersports especially great surfing opportunities, two fine golf courses, numerous boat trips, ghost walks and guided walks and bus tours, a selection of seaside attractions right on the beach including funfair rides, mini golf and amusements and a superb choice of theatres including the stunning art deco Stephen Joseph theatre – the home of Alan Ayckbourn who is artistic director here. Once visited you’ll find yourself returning again and again to Scarborough – one of Britain’s finest seaside treasures. New exciting regeneration projects for many of Scarborough’s most historic buildings including the Spa Buildings and the Rotunda Museum alongside new attractions planned for North Bay are set to ensure the town’s continuing success as seaside holiday hotspot.