It is hard to think of anywhere better to set a story than our wonderful county blessed with abundant countryside, stunning villages and historic towns.

Hertfordshire has been an inspiration to many writers including the world-famous Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton. 

With the country in lockdown visiting different parts of our region isn't the best idea with everyone being told to stay at home. 

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

The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

Watford Observer:

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Technically not a novel, this play by Oscar Wilde was first performed in 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London. 

The 'trivial comedy for serious people' is centred around two protagonists trying to escape burdensome social obligations. 

Jack, also known as Ernest lives in Hertfordshire in the play - where he has a country estate. 


Two young gents have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Worthing has invented a brother, Earnest, whom he uses as an excuse to leave his dull life behind to visit Gwendolyn.

Montcrieff decides to take the name Earnest when visiting Worthing's young and beautiful ward, Cecily. Things start to go awry when they end up together in the country and their deceptions are discovered.

Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy L. Sayers

Watford Observer:

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Preceding Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon follows the start of Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane's marriage. 

They plan to spend their honeymoon at Talboys, an old farmhouse in Harriet's native Hertfordshire which Wimsey has bought for her, and they abscond from the wedding reception, evading the assembled reporters.

However, they find the previous owner's body in the cellar.


They plan to have a quiet country honeymoon. Then Lord Peter Wimsey and his bride Harriet Vane find the previous owner's body in the cellar.

Set in a country village seething with secrets and snobbery, this is Dorothy L. Sayers' last full-length detective novel. Variously described as a love story with detective interruptions and a detective story with romantic interruptions, it lives up to both descriptions with style.

Married to a Stranger, Louise Allen

Married to a Stranger is the third novel in the trilogy if Danger and Desire however it can be read as a stand-alone book.


Sophia Langley's life is in turmoil. When she learns of her estranged fianc 's death in a shipwreck, the last thing she expects is for his twin brother, Callum Chatterton, to make a shock proposal.

Her inner romantic objects to a marriage of convenience - and brooding Cal makes it very clear that's all it can be. Yet to save her family Sophia accepts with trepidation - and a highly inconvenient trembling of desire for her reluctant husband.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Watford Observer:

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Arguably Jane Austen's most famous novel, this iconic romance published in 1813 still captivates audiences today.

Set in Hertfordshire and Derbyshire most place names are made up but inspired by places in the area.

Groombridge Place, Bennett's house is based on Longbourn, an estate near Meryton in Herts. 

However, the only real locations mentioned are Hatfield, Barnet, the Great North Road and Gretna Green, all relating to Lydia's elopement with George Wickham.


The only thing in the world that matters to Mrs Bennett, is marrying all five of her daughters to rich, landed gentlemen.

So when two wealthy young gentlemen move to town, she vows that at least one of her daughters will marry into their fortunes.

Jane and Elizabeth, her eldest daughters, soon discover that love is rarely straightforward and is often surprising. Because, surely that sullen, quiet, mysterious Mr Darcy can't be more than he seems . . . can he?

Tropic of Ruislip, Leslie Thomas

This curious and insightful novel by 1970s author Leslie Thomas explores the British class divide and a range of themes including wife swapping. 

The book is set in the suburbs of London, specifically "Plummers Park", which is apparently a fictional version of Carpenders Park, where the author lived in the 1960s.

Other locations include Watford, where the male protagonist Andrew is employed by a local newspaper.


A saga of life on a modern executive housing estate, seething with the fears, snobberies, frustrations and lusts of well-heeled young couples trundling uneasily towards middle age.

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