Brighton is one of Britain’s most popular places to visit and to live. It hosts many celebrities as permanent residents and many more enjoy popping into the city for a visit to get away from the hectic pace of London but it’s fair to say that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Some famous people that really hate Brighton are:
- Jane Austen,
- William Black,
- Richard Burton,
- Thomas De Quincey,
- Lord Neil Kinnock,
- Keith Waterhouse,
- Katie Price,
- Samuel Johnson,
- Wilfried Zaha
- Queen Victoria
We suspect that they’re the kind of people who can find a cloud in every silver lining but let’s take a look at what they have had to say about our fair city, and why they feel as they do/did.
Jane Austen, The Author
Jane Austen is one of Britain’s best known and best-loved novelists. Her best-known book is probably Pride and Prejudice, but she also wrote Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Emma and Sense and Sensibility.
Oddly, she didn’t achieve any notable level of popularity until after her death. It was Richard Bentley’s repackaging of her work in his “Standard Novels” series that brought her books to a wide level of popular readership.
She was also not a fan of Brighton and wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra in 1799, “I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much as you do, but I am not without hopes that something may happen to prevent it.”
We have no idea what Brighton had done to Ms Austen but we’re pretty certain that whatever it was has long since passed into history.
William Black, The Author
By unattributed – Heritage Auctions, Public Domain, Link
William Black was born in Glasgow in 1841 but he would move to Brighton in 1879 and he lived there until his death in 1898.
He is famous among the literary community for his incredible depictions of both land and sea vistas in his novels. The best known of which is White Wings: A Yachting Romance. It’s fair to say this his fame has not lasted and in the 21st Century, William Black is something of a footnote in Britain’s literary heritage.
It’s fair to say though that during his heyday – he was one of the world’s best-known authors (though his work was bootlegged in the United States where it was very popular, and he saw no royalties from these sales).
This is what he said about Brighton, “He found himself in this now empty and hopeless town of Brighton, that seemed given over to the low, multitudinous murmur of that wide waste of waves.” Which seems a bit harsh for a bloke who spent his whole life here.
Richard Burton, Explorer
Richard Burton was something of a polymath, he was (according to a Wikipedia); “an explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat.”
He is famous for having snuck into the holy city of Mecca when the penalty for doing so was death. He was also the first European to see Lake Tanganyika in Africa.
Richard had this to say about Brighton, “The place is absolutely dreadful, the food is bad, the waiters are ugly, the one good thing about Brighton is the bad morals of its visitors.”
Thomas De Quincey, Essayist
Thomas De Quincey’s career went from journalism to the higher calling (and better-paid position) of essayist. He was, possibly, the first writer to address addiction in the West with his seminal piece Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
He struggled with opium addiction and debts throughout much of his life, until his mother passed away and left him a substantial income as a legacy. Yet, his work has influenced many authors over time and his impact on literature is still apparent today.
He was also none too complimentary about Brighton, “At Brighton, I think it was, that a Society was formed for the Suppression of Virtue.”
Lord Neil Kinnock, Politician
It depends on where you fall on the political spectrum as your view of Lord Neil Kinnock. The Welshman who was once the Leader of the Labour Party until such a point as it became clear that he couldn’t win the confidence of the electorate under any circumstances, went on to become a member of the European Commission and was eventually given a Lordship in 2005.
He was also banned from driving for a period of 6 months when arrested for speeding back in 2006.
It’s fair to say he is a divisive character in the UK, with as many believing in his genius as he has detractors.
Lord Kinnock scathingly said of Brighton, “[It’s] All right as far as it goes but inadequate for getting to France.”
Keith Waterhouse, Novelist
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Keith Waterhouse was one of Britain’s best-known authors. His debut novel, There is a Happy Land, is not that well-known but his second book, Billy Liar was a huge hit and gave Keith a near-permanent position in the public eye.
He passed away at the age of 80 in 2009 just 5 years after he had been voted, by the British Journalism Review, as the nation’s most admired contemporary columnist.
Keith’s put down for the city was quite mild compared to some, “Brighton has the air of a town that is perpetually helping the police with their inquiries.”
Jordan/Katie Price, Celebrity
Katie Price began her career as “Jordan” a page 3 model of some infamy for having enormous breast enlargements at the age of 19. Somehow, she managed to leverage this into a lifelong career and despite the general contempt that many British people have for her – it’s hard to dispute that Ms. Price is an incredibly successful woman.
She has taken part in the fashion industry, appeared on TV, been a best-selling novelist, recorded music and even stood for parliament (her popularity in the political sphere was not a reflection of her general popularity and she picked up only 713 votes).
Katie was once one of Brighton’s biggest fans but now she says, “I hate going out in Brighton now. It’s different in London. People respect you more there.”
Wilfried Zaha, Footballer
The Daily Mail says of Wilfried Zaha, “His passion for Palace, and his hatred of Brighton, is summed up by the fact he has a painting of himself celebrating his most famous goal against them in his home.”
Yes, it should come as no surprise that one of Crystal Palace’s most famous footballers has a bit of a dislike for local rivals Brighton.
In his defence, Wilfried said of playing Brighton, “The hate I’ve had from every time I’ve played against them… I definitely feel something when I play against them.” So, it appears that in this instance, the hate was a two-way street which reflects the nature of the beautiful game.
We’d advise people not to take this personally, Zaha’s no longer at Palace – we’re sure that his feelings on the city have mellowed over time.
Samuel Johnson, Diarist
Samuel Johnson is best known in England as “Dr Johnson”. However, it’s important to note that he dropped out of study at Pembroke College, Oxford after a single year of study and he never completed his degree. Therefore “Dr” is more an act of wishful thinking than anything else.
He was a writer whose contribution to English literature cannot be downplayed. He wrote poetry, plays, essays, and biographies. He kept a very famous series of diaries. He compiled one of the first dictionaries of the English language. He was also a literary critic of note and an editor.
He was a fairly regular visitor to Brighton at one point and had friends who owned a home on West Street. However, it doesn’t appear to have made him a fan of Brighton and he wrote of the city, “so truly desolate… that if one had a mind to hang one’s self for desperation at being obliged to live there, it would be difficult to find a tree on which to fasten the rope.”
One unusual fact about Johnson is that he seems to have been a sufferer of Tourette’s which was diagnosed after his death. He was buried in 1784 at Westminster Abbey and many still claim he was the only great critic of English literature.
Queen Victoria, Queen of The United Kingdom
We certainly wouldn’t have dared say that the Queen who was infamously “not amused” was unimpressed with Brighton during her day but fortunately, it’s OK to say it now.
There are several moments on the record that show Queen Victoria was not a fan of Brighton and one of her biggest sources of frustration was umm… the annoying people she encountered there. The Illustrated London News said of this, “if the Queen cannot enjoy a walk without being subjected to annoyances from which the meanest of her subjects are free, it is not to be wondered that Brighton is so seldom selected as the Royal residence.”
And indeed, it proved to be so. After this piece was published, the Queen left the city never to return again.
Brighton is an amazing place, but you can’t please everyone and there has been at least 10 famous people that really hate Brighton in England.