Love of Books: How to Plan a Literature Lover’s Trip to Cornwall

Are you a lover of books? Maybe you’re considering a staycation? If so, take a look at our suggestions for the best books and spots across Cornwall. 

For fans of Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca, The Birds, My Cousin Rachel

If you’re a Hitchcock fan, no doubt you’ve heard of the work of Daphne du Maurier. This Cornwall native was loved so much by the father of cinema that he adapted two of her works: Rebecca and The Birds. 

Known for her slow-burning thriller mysteries and being a leader in Gothic literature, du Maurier gave us some of the most referenced and loved novels of the 20th century, and therefore put Cornwall on the map with her stories that were set in the area. Maybe that wasn’t for the best, considering the titular Rebecca character marries and moves into a Cornwall home that hides many secrets, The Birds is a horror about killer birds which should have been set in Aberdeen featuring seagulls, and My Cousin Rachel features a Cornish stately homeowner that may or may not have killed her husband…?

For fans of Winston Graham: The Poldark series

If you’re someone who wished that Pride and Prejudice had a bit more spice to it, you’ll no doubt love Poldark. The scandal, the romance, the drama, the corsets! It’s all here in this series of novels by Winston Graham. Yes, I said series. There are 12 in fact, focussing on the ex-American Revolution soldier returning to his home in, where else, Cornwall. Complete with a downgrade in spouse and some PTSD for good measure, Poldark just can’t help himself and gets drawn back to his love who is betrothed to another. It’s a story that’s sure to have you all hot under the collar, as proven by the fanfare of the BBC adaptation. 

We can’t guarantee you’ll run into an ex-British colonial soldier, but the book and TV show do feature a lot of beautiful Cornwall natural landmarks to admire, such as the St Agnes Head coast, the beach of Church Cove, and even the Poldark Mine which has since become a tourist attraction in Helston. But, as Poldark would no doubt attest to, the mines are nothing to laugh at. Maybe grab some travel insurance before you enter.

For fans of John le Carré: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Lover of overly long titles and scarily realistic depictions of British intelligence, John le Carre, you might be interested to know, is also a native of Cornwall. But even more, interestingly, his largely accurate depictions of British spy work come from a career in MI6 in the 60s and only came to an end thanks to double agent Kim Philby outing him and others to the KGB. If that’s only a footnote on his wiki page you can imagine what his books are like. 

With a little bit of murder mystery, a little bit of slow burn, a little bit of tragic hero, and a lotta bit British spies, John le Carré has made quite a name for himself. The Night Manager is an acclaimed BBC drama series and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy received three Oscar nominations, one for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

If you’re planning a trip into this author’s “peaceful place” where he is said to have spent over 40 years of his life due to the relaxing vibe of the area, you might want to bring one of his thrilling novels along to get the heart racing when the famous nature of the Cornwall countryside lowers it too much. 

North Cornwall Book Festival

And of course, no literature lover’s trip to Cornwall would be complete without the North Cornwall Book Festival. The names of the guests have yet to be dropped but over the years authors have included Philip Marsden, Anna Pavord, George Alagiah, and more. There are art exhibitions, markets, cafes, and plenty more to enjoy. Get your tickets for the September event to see the latest and greatest authors from Cornwall and beyond.

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