Places in the south west featured in famous novels

I had a bit of a quandary this morning. Part of me wanted to spark some sort of timely political debate, and ask you what you felt about the government’s decision to downgrade vocational course like fish husbandry(?), but then I thought ‘Nah, who cares about that, I’m what’s important here.’

So instead I want to ask for your help – help of a literary nature.

I’m putting together a feature for a regional magazine, and I’m looking for towns, cities and landmarks that are featured in well-known novels. They have to be in the south-west, in Bristol, Bath, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon or South Wales.

I know you’re a clever lot, so I thought you might have some good ideas for me. I also thought it might be interesting for you to read other people’s suggestions. Selfless I am…

Thank you!



  1. 31 January, 2012 / 12:19 pm

    I know Chris Wakling and MR Hall have novels set in Bristol – I’m reading the latter’s The Coroner at the mo and it’s fab. And Julia Gregson’s The Water Horse starts in South Wales. Not sure if they count as well known novels though.

  2. 31 January, 2012 / 12:34 pm

    Lyme Regis and more specifically The Cobb is in:

    John Fowles: The French Lieutennant’s Woman
    Jane Austen: Persuasion
    Maggie O’Farrell: The Hand that first held mine

    But beware, The Cobb is a dangerous place!

  3. 31 January, 2012 / 12:49 pm

    Lorna Doone is set largely in Somerset, especially around the East Lyn Valley area of Exmoor (thanks for that last bit Wikipedia!)

  4. Vicky
    31 January, 2012 / 1:07 pm

    I don’t know, but I know a man who will! So I will get back to you. :)

  5. Greyken1957
    31 January, 2012 / 1:21 pm

    Don’t forget that Thomas Hardy’s novels are all set in Wessex(Dorset and surrounding areas). Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey has scenes set in Bath. Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” Dartmoor. Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, the list is almost endless!

  6. 31 January, 2012 / 1:45 pm


    A subject close to my heart. I am a budding writer doing an MA Professional Writing at University College Falmouth.

    I attach a link to Devon’s literary figures. John Fowles of Course in Dorset.

    Let me know if I can be of any other help-a nice project.

    In Oxford at the moment pitching to do something similar.

    Paul Murphy

  7. 31 January, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    Greyken is right, the list is almost endless but here are a couple more examples; Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles ends on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge, Elizabeth Goudge’s ‘City of Bells’ is set in Wells, Salisbury Cathedral is the setting for William Goulding’s ‘The Spire’, Bernard Cornwell’s ‘The Winter King’ features Glastonbury Tor, and – will this do for now? Good luck with the piece!

  8. Mark Cotton
    31 January, 2012 / 8:46 pm

    How about Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner…..

    Falkner uses the local geography of Dorset and the Isle of Wight in the book, only changing some of the place names. The village of Moonfleet is based on East Fleet in Dorset by Chesil Beach. The headland in the book called The Snout is Portland Bill.

    I’ve stayed at the Moonfleet Manor Hotel several times too, well worth a visit if you need to do some further research ;-)

    • 31 January, 2012 / 8:53 pm

      Mark, what excellent taste you have! Moonfleet is an awesome book – I read it for the first time about a year ago and loved it. It will definitely be on my list :-)

      • Greyken1957
        1 February, 2012 / 12:43 pm

        Only now, Jo? I read it at school, forty years ago!

  9. 31 January, 2012 / 8:57 pm

    Thanks very much for all your tips! I feel an excuse to buy some new books coming on…

  10. RobFrood
    31 January, 2012 / 11:39 pm

    Taunton train station and the old pub there play a pivotal role in So Long and Thanks For All the Fish.

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