From Richard Adams to Agatha Christie, a number of world-class authors have been inspired by Hampshire.

With the country in lockdown visiting different parts of our county is off limits as everyone is being told to stay at home. 

However, that shouldn't stop you from  exploring Hampshire through literature with one of these top class novels:

Cradock Nowell, R. D. Blackmore

Set in the New Forest and London, Cradock Nowell follows the fortunes of the main protagonist as he is thrown out of his family home amid suspicion that he killed his twin brother. 

Blackmore only knew Hampshire from visits and fishing trips, and relied on the 1863 book The New Forest: Its History and Scenery by John Wise. 

Cradock Nowell is notable for its evocative descriptions of landscape, the seasons, and the weather, which would prove to be characteristic of his next novel Lorna Doone.

The Big Four, Agatha Christie

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Image - Wikimedia Commons Torre Abbey

Stellar detective fiction novelist, Agatha Christie set Hampshire as one of the backdrops to her 1927 book The Big Four. 

A tale of international intrigue and espionage the book takes on a different format to her other novels as it started from 12 short stories. 

The opening chapters are set in Poirot's London apartment which is then followed by an abortive railway trip to Southampton and the return trip to the Capital before heading off around the globe. 


As the threat of world war looms large, Poirot seeks the help of friends both old and new when he is pitted against a dangerous group of dissidents responsible for a series of violent murders.

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

Considered among the first mystery novels, The Woman in White was published in 1859 and is regarded as one of the first in the genre of 'sensation novels'.

Chilling and suspenseful this detective novel remains as prevalent to readers today as when it was first published. 

Celebrated as one of the greatest novels of all time, this book should be on every Hampshire locals reading list for 2021. 

The novel is set in part on the Blackwater Park family estate on the northeastern corner of Hampshire.


Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison.

Watership Down, Richard Adams

Published in 1972, Watership Down is set across southern England and specifically Hampshire.

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The story focuses on a small group of anthropomorphised rabbits who have their own culture, language and poetry. 

The novel follows the rabbits as their warren is destroyed and they search for a new home. 

Evoking epic themes Watership Down was Adams' first novel. It went on to win the annual Carnegie Medal and Guardian Prize. 


When a young rabbit named Fiver has a vision that the end of his warren is near, he persuades seven other rabbits to leave with him in search of a new home.

Several obstacles impede their progress, including predators, a rat-filled cemetery and a speeding river.

Upon arriving at their final destination, a hill dubbed Watership Down, the rabbits find that their journey is still far from over. 

What Happened to the Corbetts, Nevil Shute

Written in 1938 and published in 1939, What Happened to the Corbetts is a fictional story regarding the effect of the bombing on Southampton. 

The publication date is significant as it was written when the outbreak of WWII was already highly likely. 

The novel depicts the issues of the aftermath of bombing from the spread of disease to the lack of clean water and those who would be left personally affected. 

On the initial day of publication, a thousand copies of the novel were distributed free of charge to members of the Air Raid Precautions team to inform them of what they might expect.


After the outbreak of war and a surprise aerial bombing of 20 cities, young solicitor Peter Corbett and his wide Joan leave Southampton with their three children.

Their home and office was hit by the bombing, forcing them to take refuge aboard their boat on the River Hamble. 

As the plight of war takes hold they travel to the Isle of Wight but with the fear of disease and the requirement of a health certificate - the family must quarantine aboard for three weeks.

Not wanting to risk being bombed, the family take to the English Channel where they rescue two downed Fleet Air Arm aviators from HMS Victorious who help the family...

Have you read any of these Hampshire based novels? Let us know in the comments.