Guest Post: Jessamy Taylor on Castles

First in jessamy_taylora new series of guest posts from our authors…

What is it about Castles anyway?

Choosing a list of Top Ten Castles in fiction for the Guardian was huge fun: hours spent curled up on the sofa reading through piles of children’s books, demanding regular cups of tea and claiming that this was serious work. To be fair, there are a great many books with castles in, and they all needed checking. Castles are everywhere in fiction. But why?

In stories, castles are shorthand for importance and wealth. Something has to be quite significant before you need a castle there to defend it, and you have to have rather a lot of money before you can think about constructing such a building. So castles have automatic associations with power and riches, which are mysterious and intriguing to most of us, whether those are current at the time of the story (always good), or long decayed (sometimes even better). Big, important things happened in castles.

But at the same time, castles were homes, so we have an immediate sympathy for the people who lived in them. No-one can walk through the remains of a castle and not start speculating about the domestic details (“Kitchens, that far from the dining hall? Awkward.”) They are strange and yet familiar, and that is why they are so fascinating.

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