A Literature Lover’s Guide to Cornwall

Carolyn Eaton via Flickr

For centuries, Cornwall has been a hub for artists, authors and all kinds of creatives who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to be inspired by dramatic scenery and wild natural beauty. Amongst these are the likes of Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier and D.H Lawrence, and you can retrace their footsteps with our literary lover’s guide to this beautiful, romantic, but wild, county.

Book worms, check out our guide to Cornwall

Godrevy Lighthouse, Godrevey Island near St. Ives

At the far end of St Ives bay is Godrevy Island, upon which is located Godrevy Lighthouse, which celebrated 20th Century author Virginia Woolf used to gaze upon during her summers at Talland House in St Ives as a child. Godrevy Lighthouse is considered as the inspiration for Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse, even though the book was set on the Isle of Skye. You too can either stare out to “the silvery, misty-looking tower with a yellow eye” from mainland St. Ives, or take a boat tour out over St Ives Bay to Godrevy Island to get up close and personal with this literary landmark.

Image Credit: Lloyd W.A. Cosway via Flickr

St Ives Boat Services run Godrevy Lighthouse tours that last 1 hour 15 minutes and depart from West Pier, St Ives Harbour, Cornwall, TR26 1LF

Jamaica Inn, Bodmin

Book a stay in Jamaica Inn to relive Daphne du Maurier’s famous novel of the same name, that tells the tale of smugglers, rogues and wreckers. This historic coaching house, has welcomed visitors for over 300 years, including du Maurier herself in 1930. It is shrouded in mystery and suspicion, and what with being located high up on the wild, beautiful and imposing Bodmin Moor, a stay here isn’t for the faint hearted. Check out the Inn’s very own Smugglers Museum, which houses some of the finest collections of smuggling artefacts in the country. Or, why not go on a walk around the wilderness during your stay, to immerse yourself in the dramatic landscape that inspired du Maurier’s novel. But be careful to look out for the Beast of Bodmin Moor, the phantom panther-like wild cat that supposedly prowls the area…

Image Credit: Jamaica Inn via Facebook

Jamaica Inn is located at Bolventor, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 7TS

Bookends, Fowey

After you’ve tired yourself out swimming, or running dramatically along a beach used in BBC’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark (see a list of filming locations here), you will probably just want to curl up in your coastal cottage with a good book whilst listening to the lapping sounds of the sea. Why not pick up a new read from Bookends in Fowey, a second hand and antiquarian bookshop specialising in authors connected to Cornwall? Stocking works by authors from Daphne du Maurier to Winston Graham, Leo Walmesly to Denys Val Baker, the shop also has a wide range of nautical books, as well as titles relating to Cornwall and Cornish history.

Image Credit: Bookends of Fowey via Facebook

Bookends is located at 4 South Street, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1AR

River Fowey, Fowey

Whilst in Fowey, and after reading some high-brow du Maurier, why not revisit one of your childhood favourites? Take a walk along the River Fowey, which is said to have inspired Kenneth Grahame to write his his beloved children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows. Look out for wildlife along the way, who knows, you might spot Ratty, Moley or Badger!

Image Credit: Pete Quinn via Flickr

Beginning its life at Fowey Well on the heights of Bodmin Moor, the River Fowey winds its way across 27 miles of beautiful Cornish landscape, eventually spilling out into the sea at Fowey. Find out more at the West Country Rivers Trust website.


A small village on the Atlantic coast, located between the towns of St Ives and St Just, Zennor has been visited by various literary giants including Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence who called it “the best place I have been in, I think”. Lawrence stayed in the village with his German wife Frieda during WW1 at the Tinner’s Arms (which is still open today) at which time he was writing his 1920 novel Women in Love. They were later ordered to leave as the locals were very suspicious of the couple, believing they were German spies.

Image Credit: The Tinners Arms via Facebook

The Tinner’s Arms is located at Zennor, Saint Ives, Cornwall, TR26 3BY.