Stories & Characters

A Guide to Cornish Literature

Calling all bookworms and literary lovers! Cornwall might be famed for surf and pasties – but did you know the county has proved a rich source of inspiration for countless Cornish authors and poets over the years? From whimsical childhood classics to page-turning crime fiction and whole novels set in Cornwall, discover the land behind your favourite books and Cornish writers.

 

1. Menabilly – Daphne du Maurier 

Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier wrote many classic novels inspired by her love of Cornwall. So strong was her adoration of the county, she leased Menabilly House near Fowey from the Rashleigh family in 1943. As well as being her home, it served as the inspiration for ‘Manderley’, the house in Rebecca. Take a wander around the stunning surrounding countryside and Cornish coastline and you can’t help but be transported to her world. 

Serious fans might also like to wander around, or kayak up, Frenchman’s Creek in Helford. Daphne du Maurier honeymooned in the area and it became the inspiration for her novel of the same name. If you’re still not done, head for a hike on Bodmin Moor and breathe in the landscape behind ‘Jamaica Inn’. Speaking of which, pop into the very pub of the same, where Daphne du Maurier stayed and got the idea for the story! 

Menabilly beach Menabilly gate Menabilly view

 

2. Launceston – Charles Causley 

Born and bred in Launceston, Cornish poet Charles Causley used his native Cornwall frequently throughout his work. Despite his success as a poet, Causley also worked as a teacher in the local school and was very much a part of the local life and community. He lived at Cyprus Well in the town and frequented the local pubs with friends. 

Since his death in 2003 the Charles Causley Trust was established and aims to highlight and promote the legacy of the poet. Charles Causley fans might like to put a note in their diaries for June 2018, when the 11th Charles Causley Festival will take place in the town. A celebration of the arts, it’s a fun-filled weekend with something for everyone. 

Launceston by Nilfanion 

3. Lerryn – Kenneth Grahame 

Visit the sweet riverside village of Lerryn and transport yourself to the magical world of the Wind in the Willows, reportedly the inspiration behind writer Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic The Wind in the Willows. While the Scottish writer never actually lived in Cornwall, he loved the county and spent plenty of time here. 

He married his wife Elspeth Thompson in Fowey and they spent their honeymoon in the beautiful seaside town of St Ives. He also spent time at The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth and it was from here he started writing letters to his son which formed the basis of ‘The Wind in the Willows’.  

Lerryn creek Lerryn village Lerryn riverside

 

4. Perranporth – Winston Graham 

Long before it was a hit BBC drama, Poldark was a series of novels by Winston Graham. Born in London, the novelist moved to Perranporth aged just 17, and stayed there for 34 years. While the bungalow above the dunes where he lived no longer stands, fans will find a memorial bench - with Graham’s name on – which enjoys a similar outlook to sea. 

Fans of the BBC drama should head to Charlestown, which they will no doubt recognise from their screens. Bodmin Moor is also worth a visit, as scenes featuring the exterior of Poldark’s cottage are shot here, as are plenty of horse-riding scenes. 

Perranporth beach

5. Mousehole – Dylan Thomas 

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas married his wife Caitlin in Penzance. It was reportedly the third time lucky, as the pair had twice previously drunk their wedding funds! 

After their wedding they honeymooned in Mousehole, of which Thomas said was ‘quite the liveliest village in England’. The pair chose Ship Inn as their bar of choice during their stay and still to this day a section of the bar – Dylan’s Corner – remains dedicated to him. 

Mousehole harbour by Adam Gibbard

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