Literary connections to Cornwall: From Poldark to Wind in the Willows
25 September 2018
Cornwall’s captivating coastline, moors and estuaries have been providing the inspiration for authors and poets from Sir John Betjeman to DH Lawrence and Dylan Thomas long before Aiden Turner graced our screens as Winston Graham’s Ross Poldark.
Here are four of our favourite authors whose works have brought the county’s majesty to life through the pages of their books.
One of the most prolific novelists of the 20th century, Graham moved to Perranporth in north Cornwall at the age of 17 and stayed for 34 years, basing his 12 Poldark novels in the county. Numerous characters and locations in his books took inspiration from Cornish place names, including Warleggan, Demelza and Nampara.
His characters have most recently been garnering attention in the BBC TV adaptation, shot on location around Cornwall, putting the county in all its glory in front of a fresh audience. Unsurprisingly this has led to viewers flocking to Cornwall to view the stunning settings for themselves. See the Visit Cornwall website for a list of some of the top Poldark film locations.
(image: Pan Macmillan website)
Relatively unknown in her native Britain, Rosamunde Pilcher is a household name in Germany where her novels are the subject of countless TV films watched by millions. Pilcher, who was born and raised in Cornwall, set many of her novels here and German TV broadcaster ZDF has been true to these roots, returning regularly to film fresh episodes for the popular Sunday night series.
Film locations to seek out include the National Trust’s Lanhydrock Estate and Mount Edgcumbe. Polperro, Looe and Fowey have also appeared in the TV adaptations. Most recently the film crew has been spotted at Lemon Quay in Truro, Fistral Beach in Newquay, St Ives and South Wheal Frances Mine near Camborne.
Follow the TV cast and head out in the saddle with Polmartin Riding at Lanreath.
(image: The Cornwall Guide website)
Daphne du Maurier
From Frenchman’s Creek to Jamaica Inn, du Maurier’s novels have arguably captured the romance of Cornwall’s landscapes more than any other author.
She grew up holidaying in Cornwall, with the family buying a second home at Bodinnick in Fowey in 1926. It was here that she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit. In 1943 she moved to Fowey, renting a house called Readymoney Cottage, the former coach house to Point Neptune (now owned by Dawn French). She subsequently moved into Menabilly (Manderley in Rebecca), a house belonging to the Rashleigh family.
A du Maurier tour should start at Fowey Museum and take in the Daphne du Maurier Literary Centre. The annual Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature, which was inspired by the author and draws an impressive array of writers each May, is a must.
(image: BookBub website)
Staying close to Fowey, the creek around the village of Lerryn is believed to have been the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. The book started out as a series of letters and bedtime stories to Grahame’s son, Alastair, based on time spent on the river with his friend and fellow writer, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.
Take a guided canoe trip with Encounter Cornwall from their base in Golant or ask about our private boat charter trips.
(image: Amazon website)
The much-loved second home of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Talland Bay has its own literary connections, featuring in Judy’s novel, Eloise. When the Richard and Judy Book Club first came into being we would often receive visits at Talland Bay Hotel from aspiring authors keen to drop off their manuscripts for the famous couple.
Don’t miss the Looe Literary Festival, which takes place during November each year (running from 15-18 November 2018). The comfiest beds and best food in town are to be found here at the Talland Bay Hotel…Hike the coast path to your heart’s content, seek out literary locations from Lanhydrock to Fowey then curl up with a book and a G&T in the bar.