This is just a sample of some of the famous authors known to have visited or lived in Hatfield. Books mentioning Hatfield or based on Hatfield are also covered under Literature.
Samuel Pepys – best known for his diaries which are as much historical / autobiographical as a literary work. He records several visits to Hatfield.
Charles Dickens – known to have visited Hatfield as a newspaper reporter. Mentions Hatfield in Oliver Twist and in his lesser known short stories Mrs Lirriper's Lodger and Mrs Lirriper's Legacy.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen name: Lewis Carroll) – best known as the creator of Alice in Wonderland, he became friends with the then Marquess of Salisbury and visited the Hatfield on several occasions. The tales he told the 3rd Marquess' young daughters were later incorporated into Sylie and Bruno - a fairy novel in two volumes.
Daniel Defoe (born Foe) – best known for his novels Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders. Considered by some to be the father of modern journalism. Briefly mentions Hatfield in volume two of his three-volume Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724-27).
Thomas Hardy – brought as a child to Hatfield in 1849, and briefly attended a school in Fore Street. He is thought to have based Sergeant Troy, a character in his book Far From the Maddening Crowd, on his uncle, John Bererton Sharpe, who was a farm manager in Hatfield. While his aunt may have been the inspiration for the character Bathsheba in the same work. He is known to have visited the town as an adult in 1866.
H Rider Haggard – best known for his fictional works, like King Solomon's Mines and She, H Rider Haggard visited Hatfield and mentions the town in Volume One of Rural England – A two-volume work aimed at sharing and promoting best agricultural practice.
Beatrix Potter – children's author, probably best known for Peter Rabbit. Lived at Camfield Place in Hatfield (Parish and Rural District) and is thought to have created this character there. Also known to have stayed at Bush Hall (a photograph of her – taken there when she was 18, and a sketch of the part of the hall can be found on the Victoria & Albert Museum site). She also made a painting of the water-mill at Mill Green.
Dame Barbara Cartland (Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland) – inspired by the death of her father, wrote her first novel, Jigsaw, in 1923. Moved to Camfield Place (Beatrix Potter's former residence) in 1950. Opened the first privately-owned Gypsy camp near Hatfield in 1964. A prolific author she wrote over 700 books. As Mrs Hugh McCorquodale she was elected to public office.
Terry Pratchett – sci-fi/fantasy author. Attended a book signing at The Galleria. Having been diagnosed with Alzheimers, was a special guest at the opening of a Japanese pharmaceutical corporation's European Knowledge Centre in Hatfield in July 2009.
Capt W E Johns – children's author. Born and raised in Hertford, it is possible that William Earl Johns first visited Hatfield as a child. After active service during WWI with the King's Own Royal Regiment, Machine Gun Corps and the Royal Flying Corps, made a career as an illustrator and aviation correspondent. In 1932 founded magazine, Popular Flying, with himself as editor, and duly created his famous Biggles character. It is more than likely he would have visited Hatfield to attend aviation events before the outbreak of WWII. He is definitely known to have visited Hatfield to cover the 1937 SBAC air show.
Winnie the Pooh's creator, A A Milne, wrote in a letter to The Times in 1934:
"...No doubt most of us prefer peace to war; Hatfield to Hell. But we do not get to Hatfield by sitting down at Hendon and waiting for Hatfield to arrive..."
However, the term 'Hatfield or Hell' had been coined by Lord Darling in an earlier letter to the editor regarding the Peace Ballot (held in 1935). The ballot essentially saved the League of Nations (the forerunner to today's United Nations) from collapsing after Germany pulled out, and it earned its champion, Lord Cecil of Chelwood (third son of the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury), the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.