Beverley Books and Authors



Surprisingly, for such a historic town, Beverley does not possess the most obvious of literary heritages, unlike Whitby with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and York and Hull with their bold references in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Beverley did gain mention though in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. However, perhaps the most intriguing literary link to the town involves the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft. After having spent part of her youth in the town, she enjoyed success as a writer and activist before dying tragically following the birth of a daughter. Her name was also Mary, and she would go onto marry Percy Bysshe Shelley and pen perhaps the utimate horror novel, Frankenstein. In more modern times, the town has produced several excellent writers, such as Domini Highsmith and Val Wood.


Born in 1942 to Jewish parents , Domini Highsmith became one of Beverley’s few professional authors. Following a career in television and radio, she turned her hand to wriring and produced a succession of novels, including six thrillers that were published under the pen name of Domini Wiles. Domini Highsmith is perhaps best known for her Father Simeon ecclesiastical trilogy set in Medieval Beverley. The series comprised Keeper at the Shrine, The Guardian at the Gate and Master of the Keys. The trilogy marked the end of Domini Highsmith’s career due to her untimely death in 2003.

domini highsmith


Although an accomplished author in her own right, Mary Wollstonecraft is arguably more famous as the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. During the early 1770s, Mary Wollstonecraft lived on Highgate near the Minster and shared a close intellectual bond with Jane Arden, the daughter of local academic, John Arden. Perhaps Mary Wollstonecraft’s best known work is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792. She died in 1797, after giving birth to the daughter who would write what many consider to still be the defining novel of the horror genre.

mary wollstonecraft beverley shelley frankenstein


Candace Robb is an American author who has a penchant for writing Medieval English tales, with many set in Yorkshire. Her Owen Archer series of books currently spans over 12 titles. It is one of these works, The Nun’s Tale, that brings about her association with Beverley. The story deals with a local nun, Dame Joanna Calverley, who falls victim to the plague, only to reappear in York around a year later with no knowledge of her past. Owen Archer, an investigator for the clergy, is assigned by his employer, the Archbishop of York, to uncover the truth behind Dame Joanna’s story.

the nun's tale candace robb


Born in Castleford, Val Wood is a Beverley based author of historical romance novels. With over 25 books to her credit, most of them set in Hull and around the East Riding, Val Wood’s work has often ranked on The Times best-seller list. Her first novel was The Hungry Tide (1993), for which she won the Catherine Cookson Prize for Fiction. Val Wood ‘s most recent literary offering is Winter’s Daughter. It is a wholesome tale about a couple who rescue a mystery child from a homeless shelter in Victorian era Hull.



In Chaucer’s great work, a chapter called The Summonors Tale is believed to be referring to Dominican monks from the Beverley Friary.

Masters, there is in Yorkshire, as I guess,
A marshy region that’s called Holderness,
Wherein there went a limiter about
To preach, and to beg too, beyond a doubt.
And so it happened that on a day this friar
Had preached in church in his own manner dire,
And specially, and above everything,
Incited he the people, by preaching