H. E. Bates
Whilst Rushden would claim H E Bates as their own there is little dispute that he spent many of his formative years in Higham Ferrers at the home of his maternal grand parents Mr. and Mrs. George Lucas, and this formed an endless love of the Town which at the time was the smallest Borough in the country.
Many local people would have recognised themselves in his short stories very thinly disguised and several of his novels are set in the Town, including Catherine Foster, The Sleepless Moon and The Feast of July.
Catherine Foster is one of Bates early books and is set in a small town which approximates with Higham Ferrers at the time, and reflects the small town attitudes prevalent at that time, and dealing as it does with very adult themes of adultery and betrayal tended to split the local community views as to Bates as an author.
The Sleepless Moon is set in and around the Market Square, with the present Beans Coffee Shop being the location for the heroines home and St Mary's Church forming the location for both the opening scene and the tragic ending of the book.
The Feast of July is also set in the Town with the Market Square being a prime location and the site of the former Anchor Inn in Wharf Road forming the location for the tragic murder.
The My Uncle Silas stories are set in no small part in the Town and this is no surprise as the character is based on Bates' Great Uncle Joseph Betts who was his maternal Grandmothers brother in law. Betts was a real character, a womaniser and an out and out reprobate, and was a regular visitor to the Lucases at times of celebration such as Higham Feast which is described very accurately in the storySugar for the Horse.
Bates' grandfather instilled in him a fine sense of history and talked of Chichele and others as if he knew them, and this stayed with Bates all his life.