Happy Birthday R D Blackmore – with a chance to see Lorna Doone live!

Today 7th June we celebrate R D Blackmore’s birthday with a re-edited post from last year that includes a special extra – an invitation to see the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company and the communities of Lynton and Lynmouth’s production of Lorna Doone, set in one of its original locations, the magnificent Valley of Rocks!

Much of Lorna Doone is set in the villages and wild open places of Exmoor – yet only one of its film versions – in 1934 – was actually filmed on Exmoor! So we are delighted to have the Pleasure Dome Theatre’s version set in the Valley of Rocks at the end of August/start of September 2017. What’s more, a percentage of every ticket sold is donated to CareMoor for Exmoor to help continue the conservation and access work that keeps Exmoor so special. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE (where you can also book for The Importance of Being Earnest).


Considering how popular the novel Lorna Doone is still today, it may surprise you to know it was originally a flop – selling only 300 copies! It was saved by a fluke – the one volume edition was published at the same time as the announcement of the engagement between the Queen’s daughter Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne – and the public mistook the name Lorna Doone for the Marquis of Lorne! Sales of the novel took off, with 16,000 sold by 1876.

Such is the attraction of the plot that there have been 6 films made of the novel – the first one being a silent movie in 1912. As mentioned above, most of them were filmed elsewhere, with the most recent version (a BBC dramatisation in 2001) upsetting many Devonians by filming it in the Brecon Beacons! (see this post Lorna Doone upsets the West Country)

R D BlackmoreBorn in 1825, the man so closely associated with Devon – and Exmoor in particular – Richard Doddridge Blackmore didn’t spend much time here as an adult (mainly short visits & holidays). His family had been yeoman farmers in the Parracombe area of North Devon for many generations so “In everything, except the accident of my birth I am a Devonian; my ancestry were all Devonians; my sympathies and feelings are all Devonian.” The majority of his time here was as a child, living in King’s Nympton and Culmstock, spending most of his time at school – Hugh Squier’s in South Molton; Kings School in Bruton and Blundell’s in Tiverton).

Thanks to David R Blackmore’s website for this information. Yes, he is related – he’s a second cousin three generations removed. For the full history of R D Blackmore, go to David’s site at http://ow.ly/nRvK300O7Qu. Also with thanks to VictorianWeb.org for the image above.

Happy 192nd Birthday sir!

And if you know which performance dates you want to see Lorna Doone in the Valley of Rocks (or in Lynton Town Hall if raining), here are the links below for each date:

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