The Town of Penzance

The Literary Tradition in Penzance

The peace and tranquillity of the West Cornwall environment has long provided the incentive and opportunity for creative writers to produce work which often draws on that very environment for its inspiration. While visits to the area have been recorded by many Victorian writers, such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, it has been the writers of the 20th Century who have brought this area to the attention of the public.

Notable amongst these were Virginia Woolf - whose novel "To the Lighthouse" was inspired by the Godrevy Lighthouse on St Ives Bay - and D.H.Lawrence who spent some time on the wild North Coast between Lands End & St Ives.

More recently, many popular writers have settled to life in West Cornwall including the late Derek and Jeannie Tangye. After moving from London, their novels in the "Minack Chronicles" series describing their life and their animals and Cornish environment in which they lived became well-known, not only locally, but internationally. Today, their home just to the West of Lamorna remains a focus of much attention from their loyal "fans". A close neighbour of the Tangye's was John le Carre - the very successful writer of espionage novels who, while not setting his novels in this area, found this to be an ideal location in which to create his many characters - including the ever-popular George Smiley.

Other writers who have set their novels in this area include Winston Graham, creator of the "Poldark" series of stories about the adventures of the Poldark and Warleggan families set in the early 1800s, which attracted a world-wide audience when they were televised in the late 1970s. More recently, the "small screen" has seen adaptations Rosamund Pilcher's "The Shell Seekers" and W.J.Burley's "Wycliffe" detective stories. All of these stories are set in Cornwall - mostly in, and around, Penzance and Lands End - and location filming of them was also done locally. Visitors now are able to re-trace the steps of their many heroes through the locations which were used and so effectively showed this area to the world.

More about the historical evolution of the Artistic Culture in, and around, Penzance, can be found at:-