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
Dartmoor - A winter landscape. (Photo:
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
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
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.