Every March we celebrate World Book Day – you’ve likely seen local children and other organisations getting dressed up as their favourite characters, this year, we thought we’d join in by introducing you to some of the incredible writers that have called North Devon home throughout the years.

Charles Kingsley

Considering Charles Kingsley is the reason Westward Ho! exists, we had to have him first. The author lived in Bideford and based many of his writings in and around his home town. One of his books, Westward Ho! inspired the name of the village and Charles Kingsley even opened up the first hotel to operate there.

Other than Westward Ho!, which is the story of a man who sets sail for Spain during the Elizabethan era and is hugely inspired by the region’s maritime history, you might have also heard of The Water Babies. This book was written for his young son at  his home in nearby Clovelly.

RD Blackmore

Though we had to have Charles Kingsley first because of the whole Westward Ho! thing, this guy is the reason why Exmoor and North Devon is considered to be a hugely romantic and epic place to live. He used it as the setting for his novel Lorna Doone. Exmoor is as much a character in Lorna Doone as the feared Doones themselves and the book remains one of the most epic romances ever to come out of Britain over 100 years later.

Rudyard Kipling

If you’ve ever wondered around Kipling Tor and wondered where it got its name, it has nothing to do with exceedingly good cakes and everything to do with the Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling’s work was, admittedly, mostly inspired by his time in India, but his family did settle in Torquay for a time and he also lived in Bideford and Clovelly. He was also known to frequent places like Lynton and Lynmouth and many of the great romantic poets would often reference places named for Rudyard Kipling. The Kipling Tors walk is now managed by the National Trust and can be found in Westward Ho!, it is mentioned in Kipling’s novel Stalky and Co and is where he and his friends would hang out to smoke and read together.

Henry Williamson

Rudyard Kipling isn’t the only author with a walk attached to them. Henry Williamson is the author of Tarka the Otter and North Devon is famous for the Tarka Trail, which follows the route taken by the otter in the book. The trail is around 180 miles long and can be accessed at various points around Barnstaple and the surrounding area, by following it, you can explore some of the beautiful natural wonders that so intrigued Henry Williamson and featured in his other works. His former home is also now a tourist attraction and is located near Croyde.

Of course, these aren’t the only writers to have called North Devon home and novels continue to be a huge part of the region’s culture – the Appledore Literary Festival being just one example of how the written word is celebrated here. Why not grab a couple of books by the authors above and see how much of North Devon you recognise in the pages?