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The South West of England has proved to be a rich source of inspiration in the past for writers as diverse as R.D. Blackmore,Thomas Hardy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. 

Exmoor is now known by many as "Lorna Doone" country, thanks to R.D. Blackmore. Thomas Hardy and his novels were linked closely to 19th century Dorset and, in particular, to the County Town of Dorchester. Conan Doyle worked as a young Doctor close to Plymouth and knew the stark landscape and extreme weather of Dartmoor, which provided the setting for "The Hound of The Baskervilles" and several other stories.

Dartmoor - A winter landscape. (Photo: G.R. Johnson)

Agatha Christie lived for many years in a magnificent house overlooking the Dart Estuary and many of her novels are set in the region..  Daphne du Maurier  based many of her romantic suspense novels on the Cornish coast where she made her home for 25 years..  The Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor was immortalised in her novel of that name.

More recently, writers such as Michael Jecks and Bernard Knight have researched medieval West Country history (a time when Devon prospered through its woollen industry and trading links) for the basis of their medieval mysteries. Robert Goddard is one of our foremost mystery writers with an international following. A Cambridge graduate,  he worked in admin for the Education Authority in Devon while writing his first novel in his spare time. He uses West Country settings for some of his novels, most notably, Truro,  in Beyond Recall.

Rebecca Tope uses the contemporary rural environment with relish for her novels.  "A Dirty Death" contains one of the nastiest farmyard murders imaginable.

Morag Joss scored an instant success with her first mystery novel "Funeral Music", featuring international cellist, Sarah Selkirk, who, like her creator, lives in Bath in Somerset. Her more recent novels, "Fearful Symmetry" and "Fruitful Bodies" have also been very well received.

Although J.K. Rowling's books do not strictly conform to the "Mystery" tag, Joanne Rowling does have strong West Country links.  She spent much of her childhood in a village outside Bristol and studied Classics at Exeter University.  Several of the Exeter University dons have recently made claim to being the models for professors at Hogwarts Academy and both Topsham and Ottery St Mary in Devon have appeared in her novels!

East Devon author/poet, Ralph Rochester is already known for his best-selling book of parody entitled  "Pig Poetry".  His latest book of verse "The Turkey and The Baby", a beautifully-illustrated, satirical Christmas tale of the culinary mishap to end all others, is attracting favourable reviews.

Hugh Montgomery whose privately published epic novel, "The Voyage of The Arctic Tern" was exceptionally well received by press and public, grew up in Plymouth.  His novel of "treachery, treason and treasure" is set in his home town. His novel is newly published as a trade edition by Walker Books and is illustrated by Nick Poullis.




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