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From Byron to Le Carré Switzerland works its magic on famous writers

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Switzerland has been a great inspiration for famous authors down the centuries, and now an Irish writer resident here has tried to find out why. (SRF/swissinfo.chexternal link)

In his book, The Gilded Chaletexternal link, Padraig Rooney describes the escapades of a wide spectrum of wordsmiths including Byron, Conan Doyle, le Carré, Hesse and Highsmith. In the nineteenth century they came for fresh air and alpine scenery, escaping the disease and smog of major cities. Switzerland became a byword for health cures and luxury hotels.

Mary Shelley, aged only 18, wrote Frankenstein by the lake of Geneva. Lord Byron, who had been staying with her, was inspired by the majesty of the Swiss mountains to write Manfred, a three-act poem, later put to music by Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

Thomas Mann wrote The Magic Mountain after visiting his wife at a sanatorium in Davos. The novel is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

So how exactly has Switzerland earned its place at the centre of literary Europe? Padraig Rooney gets to the bottom of it.