The Tower of Mystery:

The Literary History of Severndroog Castle

Lady Anne James built Severndroog Castle in 1784. The castle is a memorial to the 1755 capture of Suvarnadurg, an Indian hill fort, by Lady James's husband, East India Company Commodore Sir William James. However, the castle has many other tales to tell. Since the eighteenth century, poets and authors have been inspired by Severndroog's eye-catching architecture, mysterious setting, picturesque view and rich history. One writer described it as the ‘enchanted castle’, another called it ‘The Tower of Mystery’. This guide explores the different ways in which writers, including Charles Dickens and E. Nesbit, have engaged with Severndroog’s past, described their visits to the castle and used it as a fictional setting in a remarkable range of literary works. Interweaving nature poetry, children’s stories and Victorian thrillers with narratives of freedom fighters, factory workers, gender politics and colonial oppression, it demonstrates that Severndroog is not only historically important, but a site of national literary significance.


Click on each author's name to find out what they wrote about the castle.


This guide and an associated public lecture were supported by the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS):

Charles dickens

Guide text​ © Ellen Bulford Welch and Jonathan Taylor.