This site provides a set of themed essays about Kent, a county in South East England, which include interactive maps and images. Kent has a rich history and provided inspiration for a number of writers and artists.

Featured essays

Mobile Landscapes - Finding Kent Dickensian

You’ll need a map because there are no signposts ... There are witnesses of course, hundreds of them queueing up to tell you that they are the original Aunt Betsey, or Broadstairs fisherman, or Janet, or how sorry they are now for stealing that pie.

H.G.Wells

“This bus it was, this ruddy, venerable and immortal bus, that came down the Folkestone hill with unflinching deliberation, and trundled through Sandgate and Hythe, and out into the windy spaces of the Marsh, with Kipps and all his fortunes on its brow.” Kipps.

Derek Jarman

It isn’t perhaps surprising that Derek Jarman should have fallen in love with Dungeness and Prospect Cottage in particular when happenstance and a desire for fish and chips at the Pilot Inn brought him to Romney Marsh – the ‘fifth continent’ of the Ingoldsby Legends – in 1986 at the age of 44.

Charles Darwin

Few people generally think of Charles Darwin as a writer, let alone a prolific and gifted writer based in Kent.

Alfred Cohen

It was Kent that engaged my feelings more fiercely than any other place I can remember’, said the American artist Alfred Cohen.

Paul Nash

Nash was a formidable painter of ‘soil and sea’ who was inspired by the Dymchurch landscape.

Essays by period

Medieval

The Kingdom of the Kentish (Cantwara rīce; Regnum Cantuariorum), The murder of Becket, the Black Death, Wat Tyler's rebellion, Canterbury pilgrims and Canterbury tales.

16th century

Establishment of Chatham Dockyard. Battle against the Spanish Armada. Industry includes textiles and iron production.

17th century

Industry includes production of malt for brewing. Civil Wars.

18th century

Strategic position of the Medway in relation to European wars. New sea water ‘cures’ see the reinvention of Margate as a fashionable resort.

19th century

Arrival of the railway. Development of recognisably modern tourist industry.

20th century

Dover and Folkestone become the gateway to the Western Front during WW1. Seaside towns decline, challenged by the increasing popularity of overseas holidays.

Wartime Kent

On the frontline of England's defence, Kent played a pivitol role in both the First and Second World Wars.

21st century

Regeneration and the rise of the DFL.

Essays by place

Places A-D

Shingly beaches, white cliffs and ferries. What was happening in Broadstairs, Canterbury, Deal and Dover.

Places E-P

Towns of grandeur. Articles on Folkestone, Gravesend and Margate

Places Q-Z

Seaside resorts such as Ramsgate and Sandgate.

Essays by theme

Seascapes

The Kentish coast, the Straits of Dover and the Goodwin Sands have inspired authors and artists throughout the centuries.

Landscapes

Kent is a county of diverse landscapes, from its wild coastal marshes to the uplands of Down and Weald, from the heavily wooded Blean complex above Canterbury to the bleak, windswept chalklands of East Kent.

The Garden of England

Famed for its cherries, hops and fruit, organic farming, and the modern day greenhouses of Thanet Earth.

Artists and Illustrators

Painters, illustrators, cartoonists and muralists have been inspired by Kent's rich landscape.

Mathematicians and Scientists

Botanists, chemists and naturalists abound in the beautiful garden of England.

The Built Environment

A county of rich architecture; castles, churches, ports, forts and towers.

Musical Peregrinations

Take a musical jaunt with the Canterbury Catch Club through Nineteenth Century Kent, but mind the roads.

Prisons and Discipline

An exploration of Kent's penal system including the Bloody Code, convicts, transportation and prison hulks.

Featured Authors

Jane Austen

Born in Steventon, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, in 1775, Jane Austen often visited Kent, the birthplace of her father, and the long-term residence of her brother Edward.

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad, an extraordinary and significant Polish British literary figure of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, lived the last decades of his life in Bishopsbourne.

Charles Dickens

One of the greatest Victorian novelists, Charles Dickens lived in Kent from 1816 to 1822; and again from 1856 to 1870.

T.S. Eliot

After suffering a breakdown in 1921, T.S Eliot positioned himself in the seaside town of Margate to recover.

Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit lived in Kent during her childhood and then again in later life and her stories are inspired by the Kent countryside.

Vita Sackville-West

Sackville-West is perhaps best known today as a gardener, for her unconventional marriage, and as the inspiration for Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s time travelling, gender fluid, eponymous character. However, she was a prolific and versatile writer in her own right, both a a celebrated poet and author of fourteen novels.

Featured Texts

Double Double by John Brunner

It was 1969, and in the fictional coastal North Kent town of Brindown, things would never be the same after the visit of Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition…

In Margate by Lunchtime by Maggie Harris

There was a mermaid on a scooter outside the station. Gary rubbed his eyes twice, hard, with the back of his fist. ‘Oi Gary!’ she shouted again. ‘Do you wanna ride or not?’

Miss Balmaine's Past by Bithia Croker

Bithia Croker's novel is set on the Romney Marshes. Rosamund Balmaine finds love when Ronald Gordon arrives to survey the area for a new railway.

Shepherds in Sackcloth

Delmonden is a village in Kent that doesn’t actually exist except in Shepherds In Sackcloth by Sheila Kaye-Smith.

The Winter Diary of a Country Rat by Peter Firmin

The adventures of Branwell, a rat and a young wolf called Lukin, as they journey from Howletts, the wildlife park by Bekesbourne via Patrixbourne and the North Downs Way, to Canterbury.