If you visit Sussex on a warm summer’s day, you could be forgiven for thinking of Sussex as a quiet place where nothing much happens. A friendly, comfortable place, the Sussex population has more than enough to enjoy in their local area. But you’d be surprised, because Sussex is home to many well-known celebrities and honoured heroes. Here, we explore a few of the most famous Sussex-born people.
AA Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh
If you grew up reading about Christopher Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood, then you’ll be thrilled to know that AA Milne was a Sussex resident for most of his life. In fact, you can visit the real-life inspiration for Pooh’s woods. Just to the east of Crawley lies Ashdown Forest. According to Milne’s son Christopher (the inspiration for the literary character), the two woodlands are “indistinguishable”.
Nelson Victor Carter, a World War I hero
Sussex has always been at the forefront of English wars, whether it’s being raided by French pirates during the Hundred Years’ War, or as the target of German bombers during the Blitz. However, in World War I, Sussex bore a heavy toll. 30 June 1916 was known as “the Day Sussex Died”; 17 officers and 349 men of the Royal Sussex Regiment died on a single day at the Battle of Hog’s Head. Nelson Victor Carter was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for bravery under fire, capturing a machine gun post singlehanded and retrieving wounded comrades.
Robert Smith, The Cure’s bandleader
Anyone listening to music in the 1980s can’t have missed The Cure, one of the UK’s leading acts for a whole generation of music fans. Early inspiration for the Gothic subculture, Robert Smith’s group helped to provide a counterpoint to the 80’s flashy New Romantics. As a loud guitar-based group, The Cure also helped to counter the preeminence of synthesizers and other New Wave-style instruments. Robert Smith was born in Blackpool, but moved to Crawley at the age of six. While we’ve highlighted Smith as the Sussex legend, The Cure itself was born out of a succession of Sussex musical groups, and the band cut its teeth around the local area.
John Maynard Keynes, the father of modern economics
Although not a Sussex resident by birth, Keynes spent the last 20 years of his life here. This includes his most high-profile period, the time during which Western economies were beginning to shift to his way of thinking. Often touted as the “most famous 20th century economist”, Keynes’s ideas have reshaped and defined the modern world. His “General Theory”, published in 1936, led to seismic change across the world. He lived in Firle, just a few miles east of Brighton, and died there in 1946.
Modern Sussex legends
We’ve talked about some of the great historical figures that have come from Sussex, but there are many more today. Whether it’s Royal Blood and Rizzle Kicks, or some of the rising stars to be found at theatres across the local area, you’ll find an amazing range of talent in Sussex.