A recent week in North Devon introduced me to a few local writers I didn’t know had an association with the area.
Firstly there is the writer, Charles Kingsley born in Holne in Devon whose family later moved to the very popular town of Clovelly with its steep cobbled streets leading down to a sheltered harbour. His Father was the Rector of the town. Charles was later to enter the ministry himself.
You can view the small cottage where the family lived on your way down to the harbour. The place obviously held happy memories for the writer as there is a quote from him displayed on a plaque in the cottage, which demonstrates that Charles returned here time and time again as an adult to relive those happy memories.
“We got here all safe…I cannot believe my eyes: the same dear old smells, the dear old handsome loving faces again. It is as if I was a little boy again, or the place had stood still while all the world had been rushing and rumbling on past it…”
Kingsley even gave the name of one of his books, Westward Ho! to the name of a local town, including the exclamation mark! His other novels include, Hereward the Wake and his children’s book, the Water Babies.
Henry Williamson, although born in London, settled in Georgeham, Devon in 1921 just after the first world war. The cottage he lived in was called ‘Skirr Cottage’ and it was here that Williamson wrote his most acclaimed novel, Tarka the Otter.
The cottage acquired historical status as an English Heritage Grade II listed building in 2014 and a tarmacked track in the area built over a disused railway has been named the ‘Tarka Trail’ after the book as many of the locations on the track are mentioned in the story. The 21 mile track is a great traffic-free space for walkers or cyclists alike.
All this leads me to conclude that North Devon with its steep, stunning coastlines and wide sandy beaches, attracted and inspired many different kinds of writers.