Heading to Hull? Emma Petfield names the best bookstores and must-visit spots for some chilled out reading

Emma Petfield guides you through all the top bookish spots in Hull:

Soon to be the City of Culture 2017, Hull has a lot to offer book lovers. Historically, it is probably known most for being the birthplace of William Wilberforce. Though it is also home to some of the world’s most renowned poets, Philip Larkin and Andrew Marvell.

hull humber dock

With it’s unique discourse of ‘nithered’ and ‘tenfoot’, only a stone’s throw from the beautiful seaside town of Hornsea, or the reverent York, Hull is probably not the first on your list of literary stops. Let me show you why you’re wrong.

Authors That Lived in Hull

Though most of the authors I list below weren’t born in Hull, they were certainly considered a codhead by Hull natives. Their formative years were spent in and around Hull and as a result, became a massive influence on their works.

Philip_LarkinPhilip Larkin is the most notable person to have lived in Hull. Serving their the University of Hull as it’s fastidious librarian for over 30 years until his passing. His poem High Windows is said to emulate the view from his second-floor flat overlooking Pearson Park. One of his most memorable poems, certainly to the residents of Hull, is Toads and the sequel Toads Revisited. More so since 2010 when the city curated the Larkin 25 festival. As part of the festival, 40 toad sculptures were commissioned and situated around Hull to form a trail, each to symbolise something within the city, including a toad of Larkin himself. You can see all the toads here.

by Unknown artist,painting,circa 1655-1660
by Unknown artist,painting,circa 1655-1660

Andrew Marvell grew up in Hull. Attending Hull Grammar School, another secondary school is now named after him. In the 17th Century, he put Hull on the map by making reference to it in the renowned To His Coy Mistress,

We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain.

about-johnJohn Godber, born in West Yorkshire, became the artistic director at the Hull Truck Theatre in the 80s. His play Teechers is one that is still performed by masses of GCSE students across the country. It is said that his time at Hull Truck was the making of Godber and he is now considered the 3rd most performed playwright in the UK, topped only by the Bard himself, Shakespeare, and Sir Ayckbourn.

Books Set in Hull


Valerie Wood has written 19 novels set in Hull, all published by Transworld, she’s revered by approximately all of the Nans in the surrounding areas (including mine). Val Wood’s collection of historical romances have become deeply embedded into the tourism of Hull and Scarborough, from her first novel in 1993, ‘The Hungry Tide’, to ‘His Brother’s Wife’.

david mark

David Mark’s books on the other hand have been called ‘too Northern’. His Aector McAvoy series, a collection of crime thrillers, follow Detective McAvoy as he solves the mysteries that taint the streets of Hull, in a sinfully un-put-downable way.

Best Bookstores in Hull

waterstones hull

Waterstones Hull is a glorious two-floor shop of heaven. Having grown up in Hull myself, I’ve seen shops come and go, but as the flagship bookshop for the whole city, Waterstones has stayed put. With constantly amazing staff, who will happily offer you a recommendation, this is your go to place for book purchases in Hull.


If you’re looking for something with a bit more character and the scent of old books, then The Beverley Old Bookshop is the place for you. This bookshop has a brilliant, eclectic range of titles and is situated in a tucked away alley inside the main shopping streets, alongside some lovely cafes and bakeries.

Top Reading Spots in Hull

east park hull

East Park is perfect if you don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of central Hull. Just close enough to plenty of bus routes, this park also sports an small animal petting zoo and learning facility, a children’s play area – in case you’re struggling for some reading time while the kids are on school holidays – and a neatly sized water park. On top of this there’s plenty of lovely sunny or shady spots for diving into a good book. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit quieter then I recommend the peak of the wooded area, which has a few benches dotted about.


But if you’re working in the city centre and only have an hour to spare on your lunch break, you want to head on over to Queen’s Gardens. Smack dab in the middle, right next to the BBC broadcasting building, Queen’s Gardens has been home to a variety of concerts and festivals. It offers a small bit of tranquility for days when the sun is out and the office is just a bit too stifling.


Hornsea Beach – this is not winter appropriate folks – as you probably know from watching ‘Game of Thrones’, the North is often a chilly place to be. However, if you can catch this particular location at the right time and temperature, it’s the perfect place to pitch a blanket for some reading. Not only is it close to some lovely sea-side cafes and arcades, but there’s just something about the sound of the tide rolling in that help sets a gentle reading rhythm.

IMG_20160503_103533Emma Petfield
I’m a fiction-loving nerd working in publishing, who splits her time between reading books and blogging about them. I am a serial tea drinker and love a good bourbon on the side. I adore baking – particularly anything with chocolate in it – and occasionally, I dabble in the odd crafty project and love upcycling!


Share your literary recommendations for a trip to Hull with us at @maximumpopbooks!

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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