The coast of North Cornwall inspired John Betjemen. He had a lifelong association with Padstow, further south from Hardy’s Beeny Cliff, added a richer, more robust tone to his poetry of suburbia. South of Padstow, the rugged tin-mining coast of St Agnes and Perranporth the setting for Winston Graham’s marvellous Poldark saga, epic narrative of life in 18th and 19th century Cornwall from the pen of a modern master.
The Atlantic coast of the west was ever inspirational, but so too were the high moors of Exmoor and the Quantocks. Amidst the wooded combes and soft rolling heaths of The Quantocks, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his friends, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, found the intensely pastoral inspiration for their great Romantic poems, even before the Lake District claimed them for their own.
On our bespoke literature group tours you can visit the places where they lived, enjoy the landscapes, learn about and see what inspired these great writers and poets. We welcome the opportunity to customise your group’s tour to suit you or your client’s requirements. We are also very happy to research and design a completely new tour around a theme, so please do contact us with your ideas.
Directly inland from Porlock in Somerset, amidst the healthy wastes of Badgworthy Water, is Doone Country, the inspiration for R D Blackmore’s romantic novel Lorna Doone.
In the 20th century Daphne Du Maurier used a combination of the romantic and picturesque to create such as Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek. The former used imagery from the heights of Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor; the latter focused on the tree lined creeks of the Helford River. But du Maurier’s true literary setting was the landscape of the River Fowey. Here amidst the wooded parkland of Menabilly House she wrote the novels My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca.
Similar inspiration for one for the great detective stories ever written, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was drawn from Dartmoor by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The novelist had stayed on the moor at Manton, and had been gripped by the changing moods, the Gothic atmosphere of the wild moors and lonely tors rising eerily like castles above marshy low ground.
John Fowles established Lyme Regis as the setting for his powerful novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The romantic novel immortalised on film, most dramatically by the image if the tragic heroine, the black cloaked Sarah Woodruff, on the storm battered harbour wall The Cobb at Lyme.
Other authors with strong West Country connections include the popular novelist Rosamunde Pilcher whose stories are set on Cornwall’s coast. The film version of her novel The Shell seekers was filmed in St Ives. And St Ives had an attraction for Virginia Woolf, who based her novel To the Lighthouse on nearby Godrevy lighthouse.
Torquay in Devon was the birthplace of Agatha Christie, who also lived on the Dart Estuary and wrote several of her famous crime novels on the nearby Burgh Island.