Successful historical novelist was inspired by childhood visits to Harrogate library

Author Deborah Swift.
Author Deborah Swift.

An author whose love of books started in Harrogate library has a new book out next month. Deborah Swift, who went to Harrogate Grammar School, will publish her latest historical adventure through Pan Macmillan on September 13. Called The Gilded Lily and set in Restoration London, it’s the companion novel to her previous title, The Lady’s Slipper which was set in 1660.

Though she now lives in the village of Warton, near Carnforth, Deborah was born in Harrogate and says the influence on her literary career was huge.

She said: “When I went to the grammar school, my favourite lesson was English. I was taught by Mrs Wells, who was very lively and encouraging with a great sense of humour.

“She gave me a love of Shakespeare and drama which led to my career in the theatre and TV, and she also recommended books we should read that weren’t on the curriculum.”

The north is in this successful writer’s blood; two of the main characters in the new book, Ella and Sadie hail, from Westmorland.

Deborah’s own fascination with history was fuelled by her background in costume and set design.

As a regular contributor to blogs such as Historical Belles and Beaus, she is also a pro at writing and speaking on a variety of topics: from the book itself, to writing and the teaching of writing, on how her settings influence her work, local history and her love of theatre.

Hopes are high that her new novel will be another hit for Deborah. With recent TV programmes such as Harlots, Housewives and Heroines, presented by Dr Lucy Worsley on BBC 4, the vogue for Restoration history is currently undergoing something of a revival.

But the author herself has not forgotten her roots.

She said: “Harrogate was a great place to grow up as it is so steeped in Victorian history, and has always had a wonderful cultural life with the International Festival.

“My love of books started in Harrogate Library on Victoria Avenue,and I remember enjoying the paintings there, especially the atmospheric Atkinson Grimshaw on the stairs.”

To keep up to date with Deborah’s literary activities, visit