The Literary Guide to Cornwall

Published: Friday 27th Feb 2015

Written by: Catherine

While millions flock to Cornwall to enjoy the plethora stunning beaches and award-winning attractions, there are many who head to the Duchy in the name of literature. As an area of such undeniable beauty, it’s easy to see how the county has served as an inspiration for so many wordsmiths over the years. If you are interested in experiencing this for yourself, here are some of the best literary events and attractions you should check out during your cottage break in Cornwall.

The Festivals

North Cornwall Book FestivalOur first event is the North Cornwall Book Festival, an event that – despite its relative infancy – has gone from strength to strength to become a key event on Cornwall’s literary calendar. Part of the Endelienta celebrations and running throughout the October half term, it looks to offer plenty of fun for both children and adults alike. There’s even a place at the event for your four-legged family members, fantastic for those planning a dog friendly holiday in Cornwall this year. Full details on the event will become available in mid-July, with many already hugely excited about what it could bring. We were able to talk to celebrated novelist Patrick Gale, the director of the festival, to find out exactly what the 2015 instalment has in store for visitors:

“This year’s North Cornwall Book Festival - the third one - runs from October 23-25 and will be held in a cluster of marquees and buildings at beautiful St Endellion. Authors participating include Booker and Costa shortlistee Neel Mukherjee, John Lanchester, Patricia Duncker, Julia Copus, Miranda Seymour, Miranda Carter, Phillip Marsden, Jenny Balfour-Paul, Christopher William Hill, Alison Mercer and myself. There’ll be a feast of historical and romantic fiction, but also poetry, economics, travel and India on the menu. And we’ll have a programme of workshops on everything from really technical sessions on poetry and novel-writing to ones on papermaking, romantic fiction, writing for children. Not only are dogs welcome in every corner of the festival bar the kitchen, but so are children! Basing ourselves during the half-term weekend, we offer a tempting array of children’s events and activities alongside the adult talks, so that grown-ups can park their young ones, guilt free, while they slip into the marquee next door.” - Patrick Gale, Director of North Cornwall Book Festival

Penzance Lit FestAlso a popular feature on the festival list is the Penzance Lit Fest, a celebration regarded as ‘The best Litfest in the West!’ The 2015 event already looks promising, with the first confirmed appearances being the already-mentioned Patrick Gale, travel writer Philip Marsden and memoirist Nina Stibbe. Gale will be using the event to promote A Place Called Winter, his latest in a series of highly acclaimed novels. With more acts yet to be announced, it is sure to be a fantastic celebration for literary enthusiasts to enjoy.  If you’re keen on attending the event, you can catch all the action from 8-11 July.

Splash FestivalBringing the world of poetry to life, Splash is one of the most exciting literary festivals in Cornwall and offers plenty of excitement on the streets. As a festival that celebrates the creative arts in all its forms, Splash can be enjoyed in Falmouth from 19-27 September. While full details about this year’s event are yet to be announced, it’s sure to offer bundles of fun for all those staying in a holiday cottage with a pool nearby.

Fowey Festival of Words and MusicAnother fantastic event to check out is the Fowey Festival of Words and Music, a celebration of the written form that is a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. 2015 brings the 18th edition of the festival, with previous instalments going under the name of the Daphne de Maurier Festival, and will be taking place between the 9-16 May.

We were able to speak to Ann Willmore from Bookends of Fowey, who had plenty to say about this fantastic literary event:

“The name changed three years ago (from the Daphne du Maurier Festival), but there is still a huge interest in our famous local author so on Wednesday 13th May (Daphne’s birthday) there will be a day of events in her honour.  There is always a wide range of talks, walks, river trips, plays and music, so something for everyone to enjoy.”- Ann Willmore, Bookends of Fowey


Wind in the Willows River CruiseWhile boat cruises can be found all across Cornwall, the Wind in the Willows cruise will offer a chance for the whole family to learn more about the town of Fowey and its association with Kenneth Grahame – the famous author of Wind in the Willows. Costing just £14.25 for adults and £9.50 for children, it offers a great educational day out for family members both young and old. We managed to get in touch with the Fowey Tourist Information centre, who were able to explain exactly what those planning on enjoying the cruise can expect:

“A gentle cruise from Fowey winding up the beautifully picturesque river to the delightful creekside village of Lerryn, with time to wander around Lerryn, enjoy a cream tea or explore the ‘Wild Wood’ before returning to Fowey. You will be accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide, who will talk about Kenneth Grahame and his association with Fowey and how the river gave Grahame inspiration for his book. Kenneth Grahame is just one of the authors associated with Fowey, the most famous being Daphne du Maurier, but also Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Leo Walmsley.”

Discover the inspiration of Rosamunde Pilcher on the South West Coast PathWhen it comes to Cornish literature, Rosamunde Pilcher is a name which is always mentioned. Born in Lelant in 1924, she penned 11 novels for the Mills & Boon catalogue under the pseudonym of Jane Fraser before publishing Secret to Tell in 1955, the first novel which credited her name. Although Pilcher retired from writing in 2000, she’s still a reason for so many people visiting the region, and those who head south west can explore the inspiration behind her works through walking the South West Coast Path.

The famous waking route, which spans the circumference of the Cornish coastline, includes many points along the way that have served as the backdrop for television adaptations of the Pilcher Books, perhaps the most spectacular being Lamorna Cove and the Lizard Peninsula. Among the places we recommend exploring are Mousehole, Porthcurno and Penberth, Wheal Coates, Penzance and, of course, Lelant.

The Perfect Book Shop- Bookends of Fowey

Heading back to the delightful town of Fowey, the ultimate place for literary enthusiasts to visit is Bookends, the book shop which specialises in books from authors connected with Cornwall. Whether you want works from Winston Graham, Denys Val Baker or Daphne du Maurier, Bookends is the place to find your perfect holiday reading. We were able to speak to Bookends to find out exactly why their shop is so unmissable for those on their cottage holidays with Cornish Horizons.

“Bookends has a strong Cornish leaning to it, specialising in books on Cornwall, Cornish history and nautical matters.  We also specialise in Cornish authors or authors with close links to Cornwall, especially our very own local authors Daphne du Maurier and Sir Arthur Quiller Couch.  We are proud to be the leading authorities on Daphne du Maurier and over the years we have helped many authors, journalists and students with their research in to her.  Visitors to our book shop will find a wide range of general stock and a friendly welcome.”



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