As you might imagine Exmoor’s beautiful landscape has long inspired writers and poets, from the great romantics to serious novelists. Here are a couple of the writers that have lived on Exmoor and been inspired to write some of our favourite words.

One of the UK’s most epic romances of all time is Lorna Doone, written by RD Blackmore. Unlike many of the writers in the region, R D Blackmore wasn’t born in Devon, though he did once say that he was “in everything, except the accident of my birth, I am Devonian. My ancestry were all Devonians, my sympathies and feelings are all Devonian.”
This probably stemmed from his years at school, which were mostly spent at establishments around Devon, but as he lived at various locations across England, it’s certainly a glowing endorsement for the county!

The inspiration for his most famous book, Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor, came from a holiday he took in 1865. The novel tells the epic story of Lorna Doone, from a notorious Exmoor family, who falls in love with a young man only to discover that one of her relatives had murdered his father. Another complication is that Lorna has already been promised to the heir of the Doone Valley, Carver Doone.
Though Blackmore didn’t often discuss the various locations in his book, several areas are instantly recognisable to anyone who spends time on Exmoor, particularly around the Valley of the Rocks.

Another novelist that not only took inspiration from North Devon but inspired the name of a village in the area! Charles Kingsley was born on Dartmoor and as the son of a Reverend, moved around England. Later in life he spent time in North Devon, making frequent trips to Exmoor, Bideford, Appledore and Clovelly. His former home, Kingsley Cottage, remains in Clovelly and his literary legacy lives on at Westward Ho! which was named after his novel of the same name.
A number of his books were actually set in the North Devon and Exmoor areas, including his most famous Water Babies.

Back in the days of the romantic poets, the region was frequented by a number of familiar names, including Percey Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The poets Robert Southey and Percy Bysshe Shelley were among those that referred to North Devon as England’s Little Switzerland, particularly the village of Lynmouth. In fact, Shelley write several passages which became part of his poetry collection while living in Lynmouth, considering how widely travelled he was, this is quite the compliment!

Of course, we can’t talk about North Devon and Exmoor’s literary legends without mentioning Tarka the Otter. The famous otter, who now has the Tarka Trail named in his honour was created by Henry Williamson, and was based on an actual otter that the young Henry rescued and rehabilitated as a child. The otter pup would apparently walk alongside him like a dog until it left to return to the wild. It was this that inspired him to write his most famous novel which he rewrote around seventeen times before the final edition was published.

These are just some of the amazing books and works of poetry that have been created by people living and visiting Exmoor and the surrounding area – have you ever been inspired by the beauty of the moors? We recently featured a poem that was inspired by the North Devon region read it here, if you’ve written your own masterpiece based on Exmoor, let us know!