Cornish authors’ favourite writing spots

November 21st, 2015

Several of Cornwall’s best authors have revealed their favourite writing dens in a new book by photographer Steve Tanner.

Steve spoke to 26 authors, playwrights and poets before documenting their favourite spots on film in order to produce his book, A Space To Write, which looks at the way these creative folk all have individual and varied workplaces.

Writers are often seen as lucky by painters, sculptors, musicians, video artists or film-makers because the tools of the trade, pen, paper and a laptop, can be used anywhere. No writer needs a spacious or well aired studio, a furnace or a view. Give a writer somewhere they can sit comfortably and be at peace and they can work. In fact, even without those two basics journalists in real life environments do a great job of painting pictures with words.

However, often the best creative work is produced when a writer is in a comfortable place that inspires them, whether that’s a coastal pub or café, holiday accommodation in Cornwall or somewhere else, so we thought we’d take a look at a few of the famous Cornish writers featured in the book.

Philip Marsden

The award winning travel writer was born in 1960s Bristol, but settled in Cornwall as an adult after spending childhood holidays sailing his grandfather’s yacht around the Fal estuary. He still lives in the county now.

He first worked as a journalist for The Spectator and has a degree in anthropology, but his biggest success owes much to Cornwall. That success was his debut novel, The Main Cages, released in 2002.

Set in Cornwall in the 1930s it centres on a traditional fishing village and explores the changes the villagers faced as its economy shifted from being entirely reliant on the daily catch to one which was more dependent on tourism.

Liz Kessler

Like Phillip Marsden, Liz was born in the 1960s, but much further north, in Southport.

She has lived around the north of England, where she has worked as a teacher, for much of her life, but in more recent years has relocated to St Ives after finding success as an author of children’s books.

She is most well-known for the Emily Windsnap series, a series of books for 4 to 7-year-olds about a half-mermaid named Emily Windsnap. The books centre on the titular lead character, a 12-year-old girl who lives alone with her mother on a boat by the seaside.

The drama central to the story is realised when Emily takes swimming lessons and learns that when fully immersed in water she has a mermaid’s tail. This sets in motion a search to find out all about her intriguing past.

Bill Scott

Bill founded the famous Miracle Theatre Company in 1979 and has been the Artistic Director ever since.

He’s proud that such a well-respected theatre company has come from Cornwall, and prouder still that it remains based in the county.

Not only has he written, adapted and directed most of the company’s productions but he also finds time to make his own films and create homemade honey as an avid bee keeper!

Michael Morpurgo

Arguably the most famous person to feature in the book, Michael Morpurgo doesn’t actually reveal his working space.

His contribution to the book was to pen a foreword, which he was happy to do given his links to Cornwall.

Born during World War II Michael is an author, poet, playwright, and librettist who is known best for children’s novels, including the 1982 novel War Horse which was recently adapted to become a hugely successful film.

His work is characterised by its themes of so called “magical storytelling”. There are often recurring themes such as the triumph of an outsider and recurring locations and settings, such as the Cornish coast or World War I.