Jericho churns out the write stuff

Posted - January 02, 1996

Writing is one of Jericho's growth industries. As well as having one of the world's most famous publishers we also have more than our share of authors.

In summer it is a treat to stroll Jericho and look at window boxes, in winter to look at the various windows decorated for Christmas. As the days shorten, and the evenings darken, another familiar sight comes into view: people typing earnestly in front of VDU screens in living rooms, studies and basement kitchens.

One local writer wondered what would happen if he rushed out shouting: “Is there a novelist in the house?” How many windows would shoot up and doors open?

Another writer was once out strolling in the early hours of the morning when his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a sash window being lifted. “Excuse me,” said a man at the window. “How do you spell initiative?”.

When I moved into Jericho in the early 80s as a young budding writer, it was thrilling to discover that I was living on the same patch as A.N. Wilson, and that P.D. James had found her inspiration for her latest novel at St Barnabas church. The thrill has not diminished with the years. Just a few months ago I was certain that the little old lady who passed me in my street was Rumer Godden, author of The Black Narcissus.

Jericho’s reputation as a writers’ colony grows yearly as more and more novelists move into the district. I shall spare their blushes by not naming them, but they include some of today’s best writers of English fiction. Apart from enjoying the obvious delights of living in our community, they also relish having neighbours who couldn’t give a toffee for fame and reputation. They will also be pleased not to be named when the Jericho Echo exclusively reveals what our local writers do in their leisure time: they get together and play silly games of their own invention.

The district has always had literary connections. Lewis Carroll set Alice in Wonderland by the Thames on Port Meadow. Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure has a scene in St Barnabas church. The Rev. Francis Kilvert’s diary records his visit to the church and his rather glum reaction to its interior. And of course dear Inspector Morse once famously investigated a murder in ‘Canal Reach’. If anyone knows of other literary references to Jericho please send them into the Echo.

Author: Linda Proud, Albert Street

Did you know?

Where the name Jericho comes from?

The name Jericho is probably taken from the parable of the Good Samaritan. Traditionally the name was given to places where travellers who arrived after the town gates had closed at sunset could find lodgings overnight.

What St Barnabas Church cost to build?

Thomas Combe the Superin­tendent of OUP and it was he who commissioned and paid for the construc­tion of the church in 1869 at a cost of £6,492. All the interior fittings were provided for about £900. The campanile was erected in 1872 for £800.