Shropham lies in the Brecklands
- approximately 4 miles south west of Attleborough.
The novelist and
short story writer Mary E Mann (1848-1929) is
buried in the churchyard here. Her ornate grave bears
We bring our years
To an end
As it were a tale
That is told
Mann grew up in Norwich in a wealthy and literate
middle-class family. However, at the age of 23 in 1871 she
married Fairman Mann and moved to Manor Farm in the
transition from town to country affected her greatly and was
to prove hugely influential in her writing. Mann is
sometimes referred to as 'Thomas Hardy's Norfolk cousin.'
One of her finest works was The Fields of Dulditch (1902)
- a collection of short stories - often employing the
Norfolk dialect - in which
she details the hard realities of agricultural life during
the early years of the 20th century.
Mann's work has been neglected over the years but it is
currently undergoing a re-evaluation thanks to the
championing of it by the likes of Keith Skipper and local
author D.J. Taylor.
The Parish of Hilby (fictionalised version of
Shropham) has just been published by the Larks Press and
some of her stories have appeared in Dead Men Talking
- published by Black Dog Books and edited by D. J. Taylor.
Grave of Mary Mann
Here is an extract from A Dulditch Courting:
'So she pulled on her sensible straw hat and tied her scarf
beneath her chin, pulled on her fresh-washed gloves, and
sallied forth into the sweet summer evening with Horus Nobbs.
Along the white road, lying between the trim thorn fences,
they went; through the narrow green lane, with its
straggling hedges of sweet-briar, honeysuckle, and
blackberry nearly meeting above their heads; across the
broad fields where the barley and wheat, fast whitening to
harvest, waved breast-high as they passed.'