Devon and literature

Black a Tor Copse, Dartmoor
Black a Tor Copse, Dartmoor

We spent the last week in Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor, including walking up to Black a Tor Copse (photo left), which we had seen in the BBC’s Secret Britain. Devon has various literary connections. Two novels that featured in the Dartmoor Information Centre were Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, partially set in the Dartmoor area (I have not read the book nor seen the film or the play so cannot comment on it) and The Hound of the Baskervilles, set on Dartmoor (I have read the book and seen the film (there are over twenty film and TV versions) but probably do not need to comment on either). The other big Devon book is Lorna Doone (read the book and seen the film), though Sense and Sensibility was set in Devon.

Greenway - Agatha Christie's home
Greenway – Agatha Christie’s home

One famous English writer associated with Devon is Agatha Christie. She was born in Torquay but spent much of her adult life in Greenway, which we visited last week. It is a beautiful house, originally built in Tudor times and then rebuilt in the Georgian era. Agatha Christie and her husband, the archeologist, Max Mallowan bought the house in 1938 as a summer house. It has a beautiful setting, overlooking the River Dart. She set fifteen of her books in Devon and a few at Greenway.

River Dart from Greenway
River Dart from Greenway

One other writer associated with the River Dart is the poet Alice Oswald. Alice Oswald lives on the Dartington Estate in Devon. Her work has been very much influenced by the Devon landscape, particularly her wonderful poem on the River Dart, Dart.

The last of the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series, set in Devon
The last of the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series, set in Devon

However, my favourite Devon writer is Henry Williamson, who was born in Kent but spent much of his adult life in Devon. He is best-known for Tarka the Otter, which was set in Devon. However, my favourite work of his is the fifteen books series The Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, much of which was written in Devon and some of which is set in Devon. Williamson died and is buried in Devon.

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