To Kill a Mockingbird, the remarkable classic written half a century ago by Harper Lee, is Marlborough’s favourite novel to read while sunning yourself on the beach or sitting in a deckchair in the garden.
That is the outcome of a competition held by the White Horse Bookshop to mark the 21st birthday of Vintage Books, which specialises in paperbacks of classic novels ranging from Pride and Prejudice and Cranford to Cider with Rosie and Atonement.
And with miniature birthday cakes on hand for customers to enjoy, the bookshop yesterday provided the prize of a free novel to Becks Rossiter, the Australian-born landlady of the Waggon and Horses pub at Beckhampton.
“To Kill a Mockingbird was the overall book that most people chose as their favourite novel,” bookseller Debby Guest told Marlborough News Online. “And we chose Becks’ entry because it was the best description of the novel.”
Becks, originally from Sydney, explained: “It was the book I was brought up on. My mother believed every child should read it as it taught us about tolerance, about understanding and walking in other people’s shoes.”
“It’s a book I love, one I must have read six or seven times. It’s just one of those books that should be in everybody’s lives, absolutely now with the riots that have been going on.”
And it was an appropriate choice for Becks, who took over the management of the Waggon and Horses in February.
For the historic Wadsworth pub, on the old coaching route to Bath, is famous as the inspiration for a scene in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers.
“It is believed to have been the model for the inn where Tom Smart stopped in The Pickwick Papers, written back in 1836,” added Becks. “This implies that Dickens may well have passed by here during a visit to Bath in the 1820s.”
The joint runner-up novels in the Vintage competition were Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.