Other Local Authors
Over the years Fowey has provided inspiration and a home to many authors. The three featured on this page, Kenneth Grahame, Leo Walmsley and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 'Q', spent much time in Fowey either visiting or making it their home, the town and the surrounding area also provided an inspiration that can be seen in some of their work.
For information on Daphne du Maurier please visit our Daphne du Maurier page.
Born in 1859, his mother died when he was five and he was brought up by his grandmother. He desperately wanted to attend Oxford University but lack of funds meant he took a job at the Bank of England.
Grahame first came to Fowey in 1899, staying at the Fowey Hotel whilst convalescing from pneumonia. Here he became friends with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (Q), who introduced him to life in Fowey, he also married Elspeth Thompson in St Fimbarrus Church in the same year. Although the marriage was a somewhat unhappy one their only child Alaistair was born in 1900. Alaistair, who was blind in one eye, was doted on by his parents and affectionately known as Mouse.
Throughout his marriage Grahame often sought refuge in Fowey spending much time with Q and on the river. It was during these visits that he wrote to Mouse with his tales of the river bank, these letters (written on the letterhead paper of the Fowey Hotel) and other bedtime stories were to make up' The Wind in the Willows'.
It is thought that Fowey influenced these tales along with the time he spent on the Thames as a child. Fowey is considered to be the little grey seaport while there are suggestions that the creek at Lerryn is the home of the water rat and that the woods on the shore are the Wild Wood. 'The Wind in the Willows' was published in 1908 following which Grahame retired from the bank.
Not only did Grahame have a sad marriage but tragedy was to befall the marriage when Mouse died in 1920. He was in his second year at Oxford when he died on a railway line, it is thought that he took his own life. The death of Mouse left Grahame a broken man and he died in 1932.
His book still sells thousands of copies a year even 100 years after it was first published.
His works include:
1893 Pagan Papers
1895 The Golden Age
1898 Dream Days
1898 The Headswoman
1908 The Wind in the Willows
You can download a fantastic Wind in the Willows app here
Born in 1892 in Shipley, West Yorkshire, he grew up in Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. One of five children he was christened Lionel, he was a scholarship boy and after leaving school he taught for a while. During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps winning the Military Cross. His experiences during the war left there mark and he was determined to become a writer.
Walmsley craved adventure and lived on the move with his first wife, rarely staying anywhere more than six months. The marriage failed and in the 1930’s he settled in Fowey with his second wife. Living in a rented old army green roofed hut just off Pont Creek. It was here he was to write the first of his novels about Yorkshire in the Bramblewick series.
In 1934 he returned to Yorkshire, later moving to South Wales. During this period wrote ‘Love in the Sun’ a fictional account of his escape to Cornwall and the idyllic years bringing up his young family. It was welcomed to wide acclaim and Walmsley hoped for a best seller but sadly the war intervened.
He stayed in Wales during the war but by the end his marriage was failing and he was to be divorced for a second time. In the early 1950’s he again returned to the old army hut on Pont Creek.
In Fowey he met his third wife, Stephanie, marring in 1955 with their daughter Selina born the following year. Bad weather and Selina’s winter chest infections necessitated a move and they reluctantly moved across to a house in North Street on Reith Terrrace which they appropriately named Bramblewick. During this time in Fowey Leo became an integral part of the town’s social life and a good friend of Daphne du Maurier. He also wrote ‘Paradise Creek’, a sequel to ‘Love in the Sun’, immortalising the story of Leo and Stephanie.
During his lifetime he wrote some 200 short stories many of which are largely autobiographical. He died in Fowey in 1966.
For further information visit www.walmsleysoc.org
His works include:
1914 Guide to the Geology of Whitby and District
1919 Fossils of the Whitby District
1920 Flying and Sport in East Africa
1921 The Silver Blimp
1923 The Lure of Thunder Island
1926 The Green Rocket
1926 Toro of the Little People
1932 Three Fevers
1933 Phantom Lobster
1939 Love in the Sun
1941 Fishermen at War
1942 British Ports and Harbours
1944 So Many Loves (autobiography)
1944 Sally Lunn (the play)
1948 Master Mariner
1951 Lancashire and Yorkshire
1952 Invisible Cargo
1954 The Golden Waterwheel
1957 The Happy Ending
1959 Sound of the Sea
1963 Paradise Creek
1965 Angler's Moon
Born in 1863 in Bodmin, Cornwall where he initially went to school. He obtained a classics degree at Trinity College, Oxford where he became a lecturer for a while before working as a journalist in London. In 1892 he moved to ‘The Haven’ in Fowey. His fascination with Fowey had begun in 1879 when he was only 16 years old, the association was to continue for the rest of his life, and it was there he met his future wife.
His literary career began in 1887, writing under the pseudonym `Q`, his father had died and his family were not very well off. His first novel ‘Dead Man’s Rock’ was a way of helping to support his family whilst still at Oxford. Throughout his life Q wrote many novels and short stories, his most famous novel locally was his second ‘The Astonishing History of Troy Town’. Published in 1888 it is a farce set around the town of Fowey, which takes on the role of Troy Town, with the Post Office at the end of Fore Street becoming home to the Mayor of Troy.
Away from his own novels and short stories he established a reputation as a literary critic and editor publishing the anthology the ‘Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250 – 1900’ in 1910.
During his life in Fowey he became involved in the local community serving as the Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club from 1911 until his death, he also helped in the Restoration of the Charter of the Borough of Fowey and the revival of the Town Council. In addition he was a member of Cornwall County Council’s Education Committee and a Magistrate. Both his literary work and community involvement was acknowledged several times, he was Knighted in 1910 and appointed Professor of English Literature at Cambridge in 1912, he was also given the freedom of Fowey, Bodmin and Truro.
He died in 1944 leaving his last novel ‘Castle Dor’ incomplete, in 1962 this was finished by Daphne du Maurier who was a close friend of his daughter Foy.
His Fowey residence ‘The Haven ‘ is situated on the Esplanade by Whitehouse but is currently a private residence, there is a memorial to Q on the Hall Walk (about 10 minutes in when starting from Bodinnick) situated at the top of Penleath Point at the entrance to Pont Creek, it is visible from parts of Fowey.
His novels include:
1887 Dead Man’s Rock
1888 The Astonishing History Of Troy Town (writing as Q)
1897 St. Ives (with Robert Louis Stevenson)
1899 Ship of Stars
1902 The Westcotes
1905 Shining Ferry
1909 True Tilda
1910 Lady Good-for-Nothing: A Man's Portrait of a Woman
1911 Brother Copas
1912 Poison Island
1918 Foe-Farrell: A Romance
1927 The Roll Call of Honor
1928 The Mayor of Troy
1928 From a Cornish Window
1937 The Splendid Spur
1940 Castle Dore (with Daphne Du Maurier)
1999 Beauty and the Beast
He also published many collections and short stories and edited several anthologies.