Cornwall’s dramatic landscape and laid-back lifestyle have inspired many creatives over the years, not least countless writers who have set their stories here. Over the years many authors, some who live in Cornwall themselves and some who have been captivated by the county, have produced bestsellers and much loved novels using the beautiful county as a backdrop.
If you’re after some inspiration for holiday reading (or simply dreaming of Cornwall!), read on for our suggestions of books with links to the Duchy…
The Poldark novels by Winston Graham
Probably the most famous local author in our corner of Cornwall is Winston Graham, who wrote the Poldark series of novels while living in Perranporth. Now of course a hugely popular TV series, there has been a revived interest in the books. If you’re visiting Perranporth you could even sit and read a Poldark novel on Graham’s memorial bench in the dunes, on the old site of his home, looking out to the same view that inspired him to create the characters of Ross and Demelza.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
As a child Daphne du Maurier holidayed in Cornwall and as a married woman with children of her own she moved permanently to Fowey on the south coast. Many of her books were set in, and inspired by, Cornwall including the celebrated mystery novel Rebecca in which the house Mandalay was based on du Maurier’s own home, Menabilly. Other well-known works of du Maurier’s include Frenchman’s Creek and Jamaica Inn which are named after places in Cornwall, on the Helford river and near Bodmin respectively.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Born and brought up in Cornwall, Rosamunde Pilcher’s birthplace inspired her writing throughout her lifetime, despite the fact that she moved away to Scotland as a young woman. Most well known for her 1987 soaring family saga The Shell Seekers, Pilcher wrote dozens of fiction novels and short stories, selling over 60 million copies worldwide.
The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley
Author Mary Wesley, who achieved great success in the 1980s, had her first novel published at the age of seventy and went on to become a prolific writer. Wesley was born in Windsor but her family moved to Cornwall when she was just one year old. Her novel The Camomile Lawn is set on the Roseland Peninsula during the Second World War and portrays Cornwall in all its rugged beauty.
The Newcomer by Fern Britton
TV presenter Fern Britton has written several romance novels set in fictional Cornish villages. The Newcomer is her latest offering, published earlier this year.
The Lake House by Kate Morton
A secret spanning 70 years, The Lake House is a mystery / historical thriller about an abandoned house in the Cornish countryside, a missing child, and an unsolved mystery about to be unravelled.
The Cornish Café series of books by Phillipa Ashley
Phillipa Ashley’s Cornish Café series are warm, funny romance books, perfect easy reads for holiday beach days.
The Little Beach Street Bakery books by Jenny Colgan
A series of romance fiction books, the Little Beach Street novels are based in a sleepy seaside Cornish village. Find a cosy café by the beach and immerse yourself in the stories…
Blue, Air and Ride trilogy by Lisa Glass
Lisa Glass’ Young Adult surfing trilogy is set at Fistral in Newquay, about a young couple finding love, understanding friendship and, of course, surfing
Five Go Down to the Sea by Enid Blyton
The twelfth book in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, Five Go Down to the Sea was first published in 1953 and is still loved today! Siblings Julian, Dick and Ann, their cousin Georgina and her dog Timmy have an adventure on the Cornish coast when they get caught up with modern day wreckers…
The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber
An award winning children’s book written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley, The Mousehole Cat is a modern classic based on the legend of Cornish fisherman Tom Bawcock and his loyal cat Mowzer who brave the winter storms to catch fish for the hungry villagers to feast on stargazy pie.
Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore
In her prize-winning first novel, Helen Dunmore reimagines the plight of DH Lawrence and his German wife Frieda as they hide in the Cornish coastal village of Zennor during the First World War. A beautiful suspense story from this accomplished author and poet.
The Lighthouse by PD James
Written in 2005, The Lighthouse is part of the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series from renowned crime fiction novelist PD James. Set on a remote island off the Cornish coast, an illicit love affair and a mysterious death must be investigated…
I Know You’re There by Sarah Simpson
Simpson’s third novel, a gripping evocative thriller, takes a look behind the closed doors of a shared Victorian residence in St Ives, and has a deadly twist. Simpson herself lives in the Perranporth area, and has set all three of her novels in Cornwall.