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Shropham lies in the Brecklands - approximately 4 miles south west of Attleborough.

Shropham Church

Shropham Church

The novelist and short story writer Mary E Mann (1848-1929) is buried in the churchyard here. Her ornate grave bears the epitaph:

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 village. 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.'

Mary Mann

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

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.'
More photographs of Shropham




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