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Books with Brighton settings

By David Fisher

This list includes only novels and plays with a specific Brighton location. It does not include works that may be based on Brighton but are not clearly identified as such. Nor does it include works by authors living in Brighton but set elsewhere.

In some of the fantasy novels Brighton is transformed (see, for example, Phillip Reeve and John Hart) and may not be recognisable.

[G] Text available for free download from Gutenberg.org

William Harrison Ainsworth: 'Ovingdean Grange: A tale of the South Downs' (1860) King Charles II escapes to France. Ainsworth lived at 5 Arundel Terrace, KempTown 1853-1867
Jane Austen: 'Pride and Prejudice' (1813) Much talk about going to Brighton while the military camps are on the Downs. . . [G]
'MansfieldPark' (1814). . . and here . [G]
Nick Alexander: '50 Reasons to Say Goodbye' (2004)
'Sottopassaggio' (2005)
Val Andrews: 'Sherlock Holmes and the Brighton Pavilion Mystery' (1989)
Marion Babson: 'The Cat Who Wasn't a Dog' (2003)
Emily Barr: 'Cuban Heels' (aka 'Cuba', 2003)
'Plan B' (2005)
K I H Barratt: 'The Whitest Woman on the Beach' (2006) Self-published
Samuel Beazley: 'The Boarding House, or Five hours at Brighton' (1814) A farce in two acts
Arnold Bennett: 'Hilda Lessways' (1911). Second part of the 'Clayhanger' trilogy. Hilda runs a boarding house in Preston Street. Bennett started writing 'Clayhanger' while staying at the Royal Albion Hotel in 1910. [G]
E F Benson: 'The Blotting Book' (1908) [G]
Steven Berkoff: 'Brighton Beach Scumbags' (play, 1994) Youth corrupted by 'rotten sub-culture, cheap tabloids'
William Black: 'Prince Fortunatus' (1890) Black lived at 1 Paston Place, Brighton from 1879 until his death in 1898 [G]
Caroline Blackwood: Great Granny Webster (1977) Set in Hove.
Julie Burchill: 'Sugar Rush' (2004)
Glenn Chandler: 'Savage Tide' (2003). Crime, Inspector Steve Madden mystery
'Dead Sight' (2003). Crime, Inspector Steve Madden mystery
G. K. Chesterton: 'Orthodoxy' (1908) An English explorer slightly miscalculates his course and plants the British flag on that barbaric temple, the Royal Pavilion [G]
Arthur Conan Doyle: 'Rodney Stone' (1896) [G]
Elizabeth and Deirdre Counihan & Liz Williams (eds): 'Fabulous Brighton' (2000) Collection of short pieces
Charles Dickens: 'Dombey and Son' (1846-48) Written while Dickens was staying at the Bedford Hotel [G]
Sarah Dykins: 'Lessons from an Angel' (2001)
Peggy Eaton: 'Brighton Belle' (1994)
J S Fletcher: 'The Great Brighton Mystery' (1926) By a prolific crime writer
Katy Gardner: 'Mermaid's Purse' (2003)
George Gissing: 'New Grub Street' (1891) [G]
Robert Goddard: 'Play to the End' (2004)
Amanda Grange: 'Lord Deverill's Secret' (2005) Regency romance
Graham Greene: 'Brighton Rock' (1938)
'The End of the Affair' (1951)
Peter Guttridge: 'Ghost of a chance' (1998) A Nick Madrid mystery
Patrick Hamilton:
'Hangover Square' (1941) set in Earl's Court and Brighton
'Slaves of Solitude' (1947)
'West Pier' (1952) First part of the Gorse trilogy
'Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse' (1953) Second part of the Gorse trilogy
'Unknown Assailant' (1955) Third part of the Gorse trilogy
Pamela Hansford Johnson: 'The Last Resort' (1956) US title: 'The Sea and the Wedding'.
John Hart: 'Jizz' (1992). Fantasy
Derek Heater: 'Murders in Brighton, Crisis in Britain' (November 2008) Set in Napoleonic era
James Herbert: 'The Others' (1999)
Georgette Heyer: 'Regency Buck' (1935) Regency romance, which spawned a massive genre (see below)
Henry James: 'The Golden Bowl' (1904) [G]
Peter James: 'Dead Simple' (2006) An Inspector Grace crime story
'Looking Good Dead' (2006) An Inspector Grace crime story
'Not Dead Enough' (November 2007) An Inspector Grace crime story
'Dead Man's Footsteps'  (June 2008) An Inspector Grace crime story
Francis King: 'The Brighton Belle and other stories' (1968)
Alanna Knight: 'The Stuart Sapphire: Murder in Regency Brighton' (2005) Regency crime
Arthur La Bern: 'Brighton Belle' (1963) 'The sensational novel of a vicious back street world of pimps, prostitutes and racketeers.' also described as ' Murder by a small-time gangster involves racecourse tipsters, the landlady of a pub, three blind St Dunstan's men and the Brighton police.'
Toby Litt: 'Beatniks' (2004)
Peter Lovesey: 'Mad Hatter's Holiday' (1973) Fourth Inspector Cribb mystery
Clare McIntyre: 'My Heart's a Suitcase' (play, 1990) Won McIntyre the London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright
Julian Maclaren-Ross: 'Of Love and Hunger' (1947)
Edward Marston: 'Murder on the Brighton Express' (2008) An Inspector Robert Colbeck mystery
Roland Pertwee: 'Pink String and Sealing Wax' (play, 1945) Filmed in 1946
John Ramster: 'Ladies Man' (1999)
Robert Rankin: 'The Brightonomicon' (2005) Fantasy
Phillip Reeve: 'Infernal Devices' (2005) Brighton is afloat in the Atlantic, running a slave trade
Bethan Roberts: 'My Policeman' (2012)
Nigel Scott: 'Criminal Capers' (2002)
Andy Secombe: 'Limbo' (2003) Fantasy
'Limbo II: The Final Chapter' (2004) Fantasy
Will Self: 'My Idea of Fun' (1993)
Nancy Spain: 'Poison for Teacher' (1949)
William Makepeace Thackeray: 'Vanity Fair' (1847-48) Partly written at the Old Ship Hotel. [G]
'The Newcomes' (1853-55) Source of the term 'Doctor Brighton'. [G]
Mark Tournoff: 'Nightmare in Paradise' (2003)
Various: 'The Brighton Book' (2005)
Keith Waterhouse: 'Palace Pier' (2003)
Helen Zahavi: 'Dirty Weekend' (1991) Filmed by Michael Winner with the tagline 'Bella has decided to take out a few men'.

There are a lot (really, a lot!) of romantic novels set wholly or partly in Brighton during the Regency, including the following, some by authors who manage to write four or five books a year.
See thenonesuch.com

Susan Carroll: 'Brighton Road' (1988)
Cleo Chadwick: 'Midsummer Night's Kiss' (1991)
Marion Chesney: 'Beatrice Goes to Brighton' (1992)
Deborah Chester: 'A Love so Wild' (1980)
Marilyn Clay: 'Brighton Beauty' (1996)
Rachelle Edwards: 'Brighton Beau' (1994)
Georgina Grey: 'The Belle of Brighton' (1981)
Sandra Heath: 'Lady Jane's Ribbons' (1987)
Valerie King: 'A Brighton Flirtation' (2000)
Martha Kirkland: 'Three for Brighton' (1998)
Emma Lange: 'Brighton Intrigue' (1989)
Alice Chetwynd Ley: 'A Season at Brighton' (1971)
Elizabeth Lyle: 'Claire' (1983)
Maggie MacKeever: 'Cupid's Dart' (2003)
Kasey Michaels: 'The Chaotic Miss Crispino' (1991)
Petra Nash: 'Brighton Masquerade' (1991)
Dawn Aldridge Poore: 'The Brighton Burglar' (Miss Sydney Regency Mystery) (1993)
Sheri Cobb South: 'Brighton Honeymoon' (2000)

This page was first added to The Deckchair website on 16/12/2008.

This page was amended on 21/02/2012


"Regency", by D.L.Murray, publ.1936 by Hodder & Stoughton, is set mainly in Brighton, with a few short "excursions" to other locations. Although it IS a romance, of sorts, it is rather different in that it begins with the birth of Lady Regency Davenport in 1789, and it ends with the death of her great-great-granddaughter in 1935. Demolished Brighton landmarks such as the S.S. Brighton (the Top Rank site)also feature.

From Anna Borsey
09.09.2014 01:40:35

Dorothy Koomson "The Ice Cream Girls" (2010). Adapted for television in 2013.

From Paul O
31.03.2014 14:51:14

D. L. Murray "Regency" (1936). Also published as "Regency Quartet". A novel spanning four generations of Brighton life, from Regency intrigue through to the club culture and cocaine of the 1930s.

From Paul O
31.03.2014 14:47:41

Jack Trevor Story set a couple of his Sexton Blake stories in and around Brighton (I'll dig them out and send you the details). I am working on a set of novels which have Brighton connections. The first (already in print) makes a quick mention of a Brighton connection. One of the short stories in a collection due out later this year has a Brighton setting. And the third novel is set in an alternative Brighton in a shop based on Bill Butler's Unicorn Bookshop. I'll let you know when it is in print.

From Graeme Talboys
14.06.2012 13:22:58
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