List of fictional counties

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Fictional counties are locations within books, movies, television shows or songs, created for character placement and story background. Fictional counties, cities and towns are arrows in the fiction writers' quivers – they lend an air of authenticity to the story, and since there are so many of them, readers find them to be a plausible addition that makes the story more realistic.[1] Credible, well fleshed out, and named locales are integral to fictional world building.[2]

William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County uses a convincing set of facts and details, and is a prototypical development of a place and time in a work of fiction.[3][4] Faulkner often referred to Yoknapatawpha County as "my apocryphal county."

Fictional county maps are part of the creative process (orienting both the writer and the reader to geography and relationships), and are part of selling the story.[5] They sometimes combine existing cartographic information to present an imaginary location, or combine existing cartographic information to show a different perspective of a location.[6] Absalom, Absalom! includes a map of Yoknapatawpha County drawn by Faulkner.[7]


United Kingdom[edit]

  • Barsetshire – locale of Anthony Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire novel series; also used by various other authors
  • Borsetshire – containing the village of Ambridge, in the BBC's long-running radio drama The Archers
  • Midsomer – setting of the Chief Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham and the TV adaptation Midsomer Murders. The book Great British Fictional Detectives writes, "Midsomer's villages and county town (Causton) are painted by Graham in faintly surreal colours and at times have a macabre tint."[8]
  • Mummerset – county named for the non-specific West Country accent affected by actors
  • Naptonshire – setting for Home Defence training simulations of the 1970s,[9] analogous to Northamptonshire
  • North Loamshire - containing the town of Middlemarch in the novel Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life by Mary Anne Evans, who wrote as George Eliot.
  • Rutshire – setting of the Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper
  • The Shire in Tolkien's Middle Earth is inspired by counties of England, especially Worcestershire, where he grew up, and Oxfordshire, where he lived.[10]
  • South Riding (of Yorkshire) - location of Winifred Holtbys novels set in the 1920s and 1930s; 'South Riding', 'Anderby Wold', 'A Crowded Street', analogous to the eastern side of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
  • Trumptonshire – setting of the interrelated TV series Camberwick Green, Trumpton, and Chigley
  • Wessex – location of Thomas Hardy's novels, comprising six fictitious counties: North Wessex (Berkshire), Upper Wessex (Hampshire), Mid Wessex (Wiltshire), South Wessex (Dorset), Outer Wessex (Somerset), and Lower Wessex (Devon), plus Off Wessex (Cornwall).

United States[edit]

  • California
    • Chambers County — Primary setting of Season 5, Episode 14 of Monk (TV show).
  • Georgia
    • Dougal County - Setting of animated show Squidbillies. A rural location in the Blue Ridge Mountains.[11]
    • Hazzard County - Setting of The Dukes of Hazzard. The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture wrote, "Fictional Hazzard County, the setting of the enormously successful Dukes of Hazzard series, is a land of swamps [complete with alligators], fertile valleys, pine barrens, and mountains; in short, the fictional county's geography is that of the South as a whole."[12]
    • McAfee County – Setting of the novels McAfee County: A Chronicle (1971) and Angel Child (1987) by Mark Steadman. The Companion to Southern Literature wrote, "He created an entire fictional community in Georgia where a series of strikingly singular characters, mostly lower-class racists, radicals, criminals, and dim-witted innocents, unself-consciously act out the sexual, racial, and economic tensions that define their lives."[13]
  • Indiana
    • Raintree County – setting of the 1948 novel Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. The county includes representations of two actual counties, Allen and Monroe.[14]
  • Kentucky
    • Burdock County – Setting of the 1983 novel The Natural Man by Ed McClanahan. The protagonist lives in the fictional town of Needmore within the county. The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State writes that the town and county was likely inspired by McClanahan's own upbringing in Brooksville in Bracken County.[15]
    • Crow County – Setting of the novels Clay's Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and The Coal Tattoo by Silas House. He grew up in Leslie County, which served as the basis for the county in the novels.[16]
  • Mississippi
    • Boone County – Setting of the 1970 novel Losing Battles by Eudora Welty. It is located in northeast Mississippi. It is likely modeled on Tishomingo County or at least in the same geographic area. Eudora Welty's Aesthetics of Place writes, "The location is important because it explains the traditional poverty, the absence of plantations, and the absence of black people in Losing Battles. The area is an extension of the hills of Middle Tennessee, and the soil in these hills is made up of gravel and sand."[17]
    • Yoknapatawpha County – in the works of William Faulkner[3][4]
    • Tibbehah County – Setting of Quinn Colson novel series by Ace Atkins. The author calls the county "the quintessential North Mississippi town – on the surface". He compared it to actual counties Marshall, Calhoun, and Yalobusha.[18]
  • Montana
    • Hope County – Setting of video game Far Cry 5. The Billings Gazette wrote, "The fictional Hope County looks and feels most like the northwestern part of the state, with tall peaks, winding rivers and lots of evergreen forests. But it could just as easily stand in for the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in south-central Montana."[19]
  • North Carolina
    • Kildare County – Outer Banks setting of Netflix's Outer Banks. The name is a reference to Kill Devil Hills in Dare County, North Carolina.[20]
  • Texas
    • Belken County – Rio Grande Valley setting of Rolando Hinojosa-Smith's novels of the Klail City Death Trip Series (KCDTS), e.g., The Valley complete with history and maps[21]
  • Unspecified state
    • Kindle County - setting of several of Scott Turow's novels, often said to be inspired by Cook County, Illinois[22][23]

See also[edit]

  • Lists of fictional locations
  • List of fictional U.S. states

References[edit]

  1. Wolf, Mark J.P. (March 14, 2014). Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation. London: Routledge. p. 45. ISBN 9781136220807. Fictional counties,cities, and towns, however, are easier to accept, because there are so many real ones, that quite likely no audience member will know them all (though the invention may seem contrived if one happens to live right there... Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Hillebrant, Tim (August 23, 2019). "Worldbuilding: How to Create a Believable World for Your Fiction Characters". Writelife. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Doyle, Don Harrison (June 30, 2001). Faulkner's County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha (New ed.). The University of North Carolina Press. p. 24. ISBN 0807826154. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. 4.0 4.1 Beebee, Thomas O. (January 1, 2008). Nation and Region in Modern American and European Fiction. Writelife. Purdue University Press. p. 99. Retrieved March 31, 2020. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. Kinberger, Michaela (Feb 26, 2009). "Cartography and Art". Book. Springer Berlin Heidelberg: 1–11. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-68569-2_22. ISBN 978-3-540-68569-2.
  6. Strange Maps (Mar 30, 2009). "370 – Palestine's Island Paradise, Now With a Word from its Creator". Blog. StrangeMaps. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  7. Hamblin, Robert. "Faulkner's Map of Yoknapatawpha: The End of Absalom, Absalom!". Center for Faulkner Studies.
  8. James, Russell (2009). Great British Fictional Detectives. Remember When. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-1-84468-026-9. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  9. Hartley, David A.; Johnson, Philip V.; Fitzsimons, Anne; Lovell, Jenny; Chippendale, Brian; Clayton, John K. S. (1 January 1979). "A Case Study on the Development of the Home Defence Training Game HOT SEAT". The Journal of the Operational Research Society. 30 (10): 861–871. doi:10.2307/3009541. JSTOR 3009541.
  10. David Bratman (December 1999), "Tolkien and the Counties of England", Mallorn: The Journal of the Tolkien Society, Tolkien Society (37): 5–13
  11. Pratt, David (2012). "'Squidbillies' and White Trash Stereotypes in the Corporate Postmodern South". Appalachian Journal. Appalachian State University. 40 (1/2): 94–110.
  12. Wilson, Charles Reagan; Ferris, William, eds. (1989). Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. University of North Carolina Press. p. 954. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  13. The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes, Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs. Southern Literary Studies. LSU Press. 2001. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-8071-2692-9. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Castaldi, Tom (September 2, 2016). "The Indelible Ross Lockridges". blog.history.in.gov. Government of Indiana. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  15. Hall, Wade, ed. (2005). The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 369–371. ISBN 978-0-8131-2376-9. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  16. Writing Appalachia: An Anthology. University Press of Kentucky. 2020. p. 592. ISBN 978-0-8131-7881-3. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  17. Gretlund, Jan Nordby (1997). "In Boone County — Talking". Eudora Welty's Aesthetics of Place. University of South Carolina Press. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-57003-195-3. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  18. Guizerix, Anna (July 15, 2018). "True Southern Crime: Ace Atkins and Tibbehah County". The Oxford Eagle. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  19. Doak, Chase (April 7, 2018). "5 things 'Far Cry 5' gets right about Montana, and 5 things it gets wrong". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  20. Ingram, Hunter (April 23, 2020). "A guide to all the times North Carolina gets a shout-out in Netflix's 'Outer Banks'". The News & Observer. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  21. Fagan, Allison E. (July 14, 2016). From the Edge: Chicana/o Border Literature and the Politics of Print. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. pp. 29–31. ISBN 9780813583853. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  22. Sapp, Jo (2000). "Personal Injuries (review)". The Missouri Review. 23 (1): 187. Retrieved 2021-08-16.
  23. Stephenson, Anne (July–August 2010). "Rusty Redux". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved 2021-08-16.


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