The Daphne Du Maurier novels and the Poldark series of novels are hugely popular examples of Cornwall in classic literature. Browse below for your choice.
The Daphne Du Maurier novels, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek
Set in Cornwall, the Daphne Du Maurier novels are beautfully written and full of character, both of the individuals and of Cornwall itself.
Rebecca: On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband’s home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.
Jamaica Inn: After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. 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…
Frenchman’s Creek: The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for freedom, honest love – and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. To escape the shallowness of court life, Dona retreats to Navron, her husband’s remote Cornish estate. There, she seeks peace in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. But she finds instead a daring pirate, hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment’s joy. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger and glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.
My Cousin Rachel: Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in making Philip his heir, knowing he will treasure his beautiful Cornish estate. But Philip’s world is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and then dies suddenly in suspicious circumstances. Before long, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – arrives in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, mysterious woman. But could she have caused Ambrose’s death?
Some have also been made into films, available here as DVDs:
Most are also available from Audible Audiobooks, such as:
The Poldark series, by Winston Graham
Tired from a grim war in America, Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family. But the joyful homecoming he has anticipated turns sour, for his father is dead, his estate is derelict and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin.
But his sympathy for the destitute miners and farmers of the district leads him to rescue a half-starved urchin girl from a fairground brawl and take her home – an act which alters the whole course of his life . . .
Ross Poldark is followed by Demelza, the second novel in this evocative series set in 18th century Cornwall.
Or buy the whole set:
There are audiobooks including:
These are also available on Audible Audiobooks.
The TV Poldark series is also available on DVD: