Devon in Classic Literature

Devon has long attracted novelists, and below are some of the more popular examples of Devon in classic literature.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, (including audible version)

“Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen, published in 1811.

It was published anonymously; By A Lady appears on the title page where the author’s name might have been.

It tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (age 19) and Marianne (age 16 1/2) as they come of age. They have an older half-brother, John, and a younger sister, Margaret, 13.

The novel follows the three Dashwood sisters as they must move with their widowed mother from the estate on which they grew up, Norland Park. Because Norland is passed down to John, the product of Mr. Dashwood’s first marriage, and his young son, the four Dashwood women need to look for a new home. They have the opportunity to rent a modest home, Barton Cottage, on the property of a distant relative, Sir John Middleton.

There they experience love, romance, and heartbreak.

The novel is likely set in southwest England, London, and Sussex between 1792 and 1797″

Lorna Doone, by R D Blackmore

John Ridd, an unsophisticated farmer, falls in love with the beautiful and aristocratic Lorna Doone, kidnapped as a child by the outlaw Doones on Exmoor. Ridd’s rivalry with the villainous Carver Doone reaches a dramatic climax that will determine Lorna’s future happiness.

First published in 1869, Lorna Doone was praised by R. L. Stevenson and Thomas Hardy and has remained constantly in print. The novel has many aspects: it is a romance; a historical novel set at the time of the Monmouth Rebellion in the seventeenth century; and a new development in the pastoral tradition.

Underneath an ostensibly idyllic evocation of rural bliss and tale of love and high adventure lies a solid defence of Victorian social values, and a hero whose self-doubt prompts him constantly to prove himself.

Tarka the Otter, by Henry Williamson

In the wild there is no safety.

The otter cub Tarka grows up with his mother and sisters, learning to swim, catch fish – and to fear the cry of the hunter and the flash of the metal trap.

Soon he must fend for himself, travelling through rivers, woods, moors, ponds and out to sea, sometimes with the female otters White-tip and Greymuzzle, always on the run.

Eventually, chased by a pack of hounds, he meets his nemesis, the fearsome dog Deadlock, and must fight for his life.

Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley

Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley with illustrations by N. C. Wyeth, is an 1855 British historical novel by Charles Kingsley.

The novel was based on the adventures of Elizabethan corsair Amyas Preston, who sets sail with Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and other privateers to the New World, where they battle with the Spanish.

Set initially in Bideford in North Devon during the reign of Elizabeth I, Westward Ho! follows the adventures of Amyas Leigh, an unruly child who as a young man follows Francis Drake to sea. Amyas loves local beauty Rose Salterne, as does nearly everyone else; much of the novel involves the kidnap of Rose by a Spaniard.

Amyas spends time in the Caribbean coasts of Venezuela seeking gold, and eventually returns to England at the time of the Spanish Armada, finding his true love, the beautiful Indian maiden Ayacanora, in the process; yet fate had blundered and brought misfortune into Amyas’s life, for not only had he been blinded by a freak bolt of lightning at sea, but he also loses his brother Frank Leigh and Rose Salterne, who were caught by the Spaniards and burnt at the stake by the Inquisition.

Westward Ho! is a historical novel which celebrates England’s victories over Spain in the Elizabethan era. Although originally a political radical, Kingsley had by the 1850s become increasingly conservative and a strong supporter of British imperialism.

The novel consistently emphasises the superiority of English mercantile values over those of the Spanish. Although originally written for adults, its mixture of patriotism, sentiment and romance deemed it suitable for children, and it became a firm favourite of children’s literature.

For modern novels and crime novels, see separate web pages

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