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The Rib and Elizabeth Goudge (2)

Updated: Apr 23

Elizabeth was a best-selling author in both the UK and the US from the 1930s into the 1970s, and inspired J K Rowling to write the Harry Potter books

An author who helped inspire the Harry Potter books has been commemorated in Wells. J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, said Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse was her favourite book as a child and one of the very few with direct influence on her series about the boy wizard. Elizabeth was an English author of novels, short stories and children's books who won the Carnegie Medal for British children's books in 1946 for The Little White Horse. She was a best-selling author in both the UK and the US from the 1930s into the 1970s. Elizabeth was born in the Tower House on St Andrew Street, Wells, in April 1900.

Elizabeth wrote City of Bells based on Wells and Wells Cathedral in 1936, then followed with Sister of the Angels and Henrietta’s House, both set in the fictional city of Torminster, which was really Wells.

Three years later her father was made head of the Wells Theological College and the family moved across St Andrew Street to The Rib, because that house was owned by the Church of England.

On March 9th a Blue Plaque was unveiled in her honour on the perimeter wall of The Rib, which sits next to the east end of Wells Cathedral with views over the Bishop’s Palace gardens. In 1989 the Church of England sold The Rib which has just been restored by the present owners David Morgan-Hewitt and Paul Dickinson.

Elizabeth wrote: “No child can have lived in lovelier homes than my first two homes or in a more enchanted city.”

“The plaque will hopefully encourage more people to read this celebrated author’s books,” said Paul.

“When we bought this historic house we appreciated how special and unique it is.

“We are happy to share it with local charities and continue the tradition of people enjoying convivial company here, which has been going on for 600 years.”

The Blue Plaque is the seventh in a series being installed across the city by Wells Civic Society with financial support from Wells Rotary Club.

Blue Plaque map, City of Wells
The Rib is at location 2


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