Thanks Mrs G, that is really interesting!
Thanks for this, Mrs G. Next time I'm down in Truro I will definitely aim to spend some quality time visiting the Courtney Library to enjoy this wonderful and very generously donated exhibit. I would hedge my bets on there being a big surge in visitors there as well as to the north coast and Cornwall in general this summer. Ever thought of doing bed and breakfast?
Tide was nearly full. Mist lay in a grey scarf along the line of the cliffs. .. and they walked home hand in hand through the slanting shadows of the new darkness.
The following is reproduced from the March 2015 Cornwall Today magazine. Words are by Viki Wilson
Fans of the Poldark novels, and indeed Winston Graham's many other books, can discover hidden gems about the stories and the author in the wonderful archive of papers and books which belonged to him, and are currently held at the Courtney Library in the Royal Cornwall Museum.
The archive was donated to the museum by Dr Andrew Graham, Winston's son, following an exhibition about the author's life and works at the museum in 2007. It comprises a wealth of material including original handwritten manuscripts, research notes, editions of his novels and also very personal documents, such as the rejection letters for his very first novels, and the first letter of acceptance. There are even school reports, complete with ironic commentary from his headteacher, and what appears to be his very first attempt at writing a story as a young child.
It is fascinating to look through the handwritten manuscripts of the Poldark novels, which match almost perfectly the finished text in the published books. Written in leather-bound books, the manuscripts offer a marvellous insight into how the author put the stories onto the page, with the various notes and crossings out all carefully documented so the books could be translated into print. There is also much evidence of the incredibly detailed research that Winston Graham carried out. For example, in just one folder, relating to one small part of a story, there are vintage books on steam engines, schematics of mining equipment along with photographs and academic journals on the subject. At other times it seems Graham has drawn his inspiration from a single postcard with a photograph of an 18th century stagecoach on the back.
Some of the notes that Graham made also reveal telling insights into the inspiration for the stories. In one document, Graham has sketched out the Poldark family tree, going back not just one, but two generations from brothers Joshua and Charles, who are the older generation at the start of the very first book. The extent of this family tree caused Andrew Graham to remark that it almost seemed it was based on a real family, and that perhaps it was.
There are also various editions of Winston Graham's books, which numbered more than 50, beginning with 1934's The House With the Stained Glass Windows, through to his final poignant Memoirs of a Private Man, published the year he died in 2003. It is notable that Graham's novels were published throughout the war years - the Poldark series began with Ross Poldark in 1945, and ended with Bella Poldark in 2002.
Despite his enormous success and huge following, Winston Graham never sought the limelight, remaining - as the title of his final book reveals - a private man. But as Graham himself writes at the end of his book, 'I have now written a great many novels and must through them have surely revealed a fair amount of my own nature and personal feelings. Let that suffice'.
For those who were enchanted by his stories, the intricate detail of his research, the vivid descriptions of Cornwall and the characters who seemed to step off the page straight into your imagination, the archive is an incredibly valuable legacy which sheds even more light into the life and works of this much-loved author.
So if you are coming to Cornwall to walk in WGs footsteps (and Ross'), call in at the Museum in River St, Truro. To look through the archive material you will need to book an appointment and possess a Library Research Pass (£4.50) from the museum. Museum number - 01872 242786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org