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Our guide to the top five Cornish books

Cornwall is the perfect inspiration for a novel, whether it be the roaring waves crashing on the coastline, or the historic tales of Cornishmen and women from the mining past. Here we discuss our favourites...

Winston Graham: The Poldark Series

Published in 1945, Poldark is set in the late eighteenth century. It follows the life of Ross Poldark and how he reopens one of the family’s derelict tin mines, as an attempt to restore his fortune. Romance and betrayal are just a couple of words to describe this gripping novel which is based on the Cornish coast. In addition, you might recognise this famous tale from the BBC adaptation, starring Aiden Turner.

📷: official_poldark

Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn

English writer Daphne du Maurier published this renowned novel in 1936. One of the most popular Cornish books at the time, it was later made into a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Set in 1820, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn near Bodmin. There she finds Patience, a changed woman, downtrodden by her domineering, vicious husband Joss Merlyn. The inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals and Mary is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself.

📷: jamaicainncornwall

Phillipa Ashley: A perfect Cornish Summer

Published in 2019 this summer feel-good book is just what you need to read with a G&T in hand! Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors. When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see. His return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.

Antonia Barber: The Mousehole Cat

Based on the Cornish fisherman Tom Bawcock and the stargazy pie, this famous children’s book tells the tale of a cat who heads out on a fishing expedition. But will they catch enough fish to save the people of Mousehole from starvation during a very stormy winter? A Cornish classic and a must read for children – not to mention adults – alike!


📷: Nicola Bayley

Judy Scrimshaw: The Ballad of Morgowr

First sighted and reported in 1876, Morgowr (Cornish for ‘Sea Giant’) is believed to live in Falmouth bay and the Helford river estuary. Morgowr tells her own story of how her family survived the Cretaceous extinction of the dinosaurs, why she came to Cornwall and where she has been hiding for the past few years. Lastly, will you spot Morgowr on your travels this year?

📷: Judy Scrimshaw

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