The hollow jarring of the distant steam engines

From page 6 of my The Real World of Poldark: Cornwall 1783-1820 ... On television, we saw Ross Poldark galloping along the cliff tops, crystal clear in the sparkling sunlight. Back in 1795, an anonymous visitor was more concerned with the smoke that enveloped the mining district. Redruth was ‘in a cloud of smoke ... … Continue reading The hollow jarring of the distant steam engines

Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

When writing his Poldark books, Winston Graham made use of real placenames. Many will know that the name Demelza came from a place near Bodmin, originally Dyn Maelda, or Maelda’s fort. The Poldarks' home of Nampara was another real place, a small hamlet near Graham’s home. It was formerly Nansbara, or bread valley. By the … Continue reading Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

Rescuing Poldark from the tourist gaze

It’s fair to say that Winston Graham’s Poldark saga, the story of a minor gentry family from the 1780s to 1820, has sometimes elicited a love-hate response from Cornish insiders. This is despite the fact that the history Graham included in his books provided, on the whole, a fair picture of the life of those … Continue reading Rescuing Poldark from the tourist gaze

A game fit only for barbarians

It's the weekend, traditionally the time to play and watch sport, although at the moment watching is a mite more difficult than normal. Three hundred years ago the most watched sport in Cornwall would have been wrestling. The other sport associated with Cornwall was hurling. Here's an extract from chapter 7 of my forthcoming Poldark's … Continue reading A game fit only for barbarians

Contextualising Poldark: cottage conditions

The last TV series may have veered sharply off the rails. However, re-reading the early novels of Winston Graham’s Poldark saga is a reminder of how he wove his plot around some not inaccurate historical observations. Cornwall was a place of major change in the Poldark years from 1783 to 1820. High pressure steam engines … Continue reading Contextualising Poldark: cottage conditions