Seb Reilly: Thanet’s Literary Heritage

Thanet has an extensive and wonderful literary history, and as a writer that heritage intrigues me.

The idea of continuing, in some small way, a rich lineage of great writing is both enthralling and wholly intimidating. When the likes of Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, and Ian Fleming have found inspiration here for some of their most notable works, the bar is set very high.

VisitEngland have declared 2017 as the Year of Literary Heroes, something Thanet is definitely not short of. With a local legacy so astounding in quality and style, it does beg the question: what makes Thanet so inspiring?

Kye Boughton

Perhaps it is to do with the coastline. Being surrounded by the sea certainly acts as a physical restraint, but I believe the scope of an uninterrupted horizon does the opposite for the mind. No matter where you are in Thanet, the coast is within walking distance. It is so easy to get to the edge of the land that it is often taken for granted, but it is well worth positioning yourself atop a cliff or on the sand below and focusing on that point where the sea and sky meet. It provokes a sense of hypnotic endlessness, and is something that is not available further inland.

Although Thanet is an isle, it is still joined to the mainland on one side. That connection to the rest of the country prevents claustrophobia within this small outpost, and I think that is as important as the seaside vistas that feature on the other three borders. We are separated but not detached, and as such we preserve our place as part of a society larger than ourselves whilst maintaining our own identity. That almost-an-island feeling of independence without isolation cultivates the imagination and encourages creativity to thrive, and I believe it is key to why Thanet has inspired so many great writers, artists, musicians and performers, and continues to do so.

There is a huge community of writers here – from authors to poets and everything between – and the network being built is proving advantageous to all. From professionals to hobbyists, a group of both published and self-published writers are coming together with novices and other creatives for the benefit of the community, engaging with projects to support their collective goals and celebrate the literary culture of the area.

Thanet Writers, a community organisation and publisher, is working to establish and increase this network, and I am proud to contribute to it alongside some of the  best and brightest Thanet has to offer.

When looking at the works that have been conceived, written, or set here, from Great Expectations to The Waste Land, Pride and Prejudice to Goldfinger, there is an incredible standard to reach.

If, when writing, I can even glimpse at that level of brilliance, I will have achieved something truly memorable and will be able to die happy, knowing a few words of my own have remained.

For now I just need to keep writing.