Literary History

The literary history of South West England reads like a Who’s Who. Writers, poets and novelists who were born, lived or travelled in the region. Many sought and found inspiration - setting their works in the counties of the South West.

Agatha Christie was born and lived in Torquay. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worked as a junior doctor in Plymouth. Bath was Jane Austen’s home for six years. Charles Kingsley was born on Dartmoor. Daphne du Maurier immortalised Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. Henry Fielding spent his childhood in Dorset and Wiltshire. JK Rowling was brought up in Gloucesterhsire – and the city’s landmarks can be found in her work. John Gay, writer of the Beggar’s Opera, was born and raised in Barnstaple. Exmoor is intrinsically linked with RD Blackmore. Dickens, Shelly, Wordsworth… they all wrote in the South West during their careers.

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who was born in Ottery St Mary, wrote many of his greatest works while living at Nether Stowey in Somerset. You can now walk in his footsteps on The Coleridge Way.

One of the most famous of all was Thomas Hardy. Dorset is the inspiration for much of his work. He lived there – and references to Dorchester, Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sturminster Newton can be found in his works.