It’s no secret that I love Fowey and Daphne du Maurier, and lots of my pictures and posts feature both of them. Having spent a lot of time there in recent years, I thought I’d write a bit about the links that Daphne’s writing has with this special little piece of south Cornwall.
I love reading books that are inspired by real, tangible locations and I love the vivid locations that writers evoke. I think this was part of what made me fall in love with Daphne du Maurier’s writing when I was thirteen. While the plots make you turn pages, it’s the evocative and visible settings that really help them to hang around in your mind.
Fowey and Cornwall run through Daphne’s writing, the blood that fuels that writing, and in many of her novels, just as strong a character as the buildings and houses, and people, that populate her writing.
I think Fowey means more to me than anything now. The river, the harbour, the sea. It’s much more than love for a person.
So many of Daphne’s books can be traced to the landscape that surrounded her – The Loving Spirit was inspired by a shipyard in Polruan, across the water from Fowey, Rebecca takes place a few miles away from Fowey, while The King’s General is based on the history of Menabilly, the house where she lived for twenty five years. The landscape in The House on the Strand can be walked, as can much of the landscape in My Cousin Rachel. And so on – right up to her final novel, Rule Britannia.
From the moment that the du Maurier family came upon Fowey, Daphne was in love, and managed to persuade her parents to let her stay there, for a few months at a time, to write her first novel (The Loving Spirit). After she became independent thanks to her writing, she was able to spend as much time as she wanted in Fowey. Following her writing success, she was able to make Fowey and the surrounding area her home for the rest of her life, and so much of her writing was inspired by her surroundings.
Interestingly though, her most famous novel, Rebecca, was written while abroad, partly in longing for her Cornish landscape (more on this in another piece, coming soon!).
Fowey is a magical place to visit and immerse yourself in.
There’s something intriguing and fascinating about being able to follow in an author’s footsteps – to see the same places they did, walk the same walks, see where they lived and breathed and were inspired.
Fowey is my favourite place – it’s magical and has a spirit that is impossible to put into words.
What literary landscapes inspire you?