The West Country creating Inspiration for Writers
Looking for atmosphere and views to inspire you to write then the West Country could be the ideal setting for you. I personally found Axemouth Harbour, Devon the view that inspired me to write my first book and several short stories. Steeped in history, folklore and tradition with some of the most breath taking scenery Devon and Cornwall have inspired great writers and continue to do so.
Cornwall offers many beautiful and intriguing settings for a novel or short story. Antonia Barber used Mousehole in Cornwall as the setting for her children’s book, The Mousehole Cat. The story is based on an old Cornish legend. Virginia Woolf lived in St Ives during 1926 and wrote To the Lighthouse which is thought to be inspired by Godrevey lighthouse.
Daphne du Maurier’s novel French Man’s Creek immortalized a creek off Helford River which is in the care of the National Trust. The house which she fictionalized into Manderley, in her novel Rebecca was located in Cornwall. Her famous Jamaica Inn was inspired by an inn at Bolventor where there is a museum dedicated to her work. The thriller writer Alistair McLean briefly owned the Inn.
Mary Wesley was inspired by the Roseland Peninsula when she wrote the Camomile Lawn and set her work Harnessing Peacocks in the South West featuring the Isles of Scilly, Exeter and Penzance. The memorable Poldark novels, set over much of Cornwall, were written by Winston Graham who lived in Perranporth.
Moving to North Devon, Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies lived in Bideford from 1854 and wrote Westward Ho! Rudyard Kipling also lived in this area. The Torridge and Taw Valleys in North Devon were the main settings for Henry Williamson when he penned Tarka the Otter.
Agatha Christie stayed at Burgh Island, off the coast of South Devon, when writing And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun. Born in Torquay in 1890 she became the world’s most published crime writer.
Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited whilst staying near Chagford whilst nearby Manaton inspired John Galsworthy in the early 1900’s to write The Forsythe Saga.
Dartmoor, an area of such wild beauty and stark wilderness that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most celebrated novel The Hound of the Baskervilles just cried out to be set there. Exmoor inspiration for R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone perhaps one of the most famous West Country novels.
Nearer home to the Otter Valley Writers is Ottery St Mary where Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born at the vicarage. Thackery lived close by there in the 1820’s and in his Pendennis Ottery St Mary became Clavering St Mary.
Over the border into Dorset the much acclaimed French Lieutenant’s Woman by author John Fowles was set in his home of Lyme Regis. A coastal area much loved by Jane Austin, C. Day Lewis and Henry Fielding and visited by Beatrix Potter, Defoe and Tennyson a seat on the sea wall is bound to stir your senses into writing.