Wessex in Fiction: The Maid of Sker

The Maid of Sker is a romance by RD Blackmore published in 1872, although he had been working on it since 1847. Blackmore regarded it as his finest work, though it is little-remembered compared to his earlier novel, Lorna Doone. It was first serialised in Blackwood’s Magazine before being published in three volumes.

The plot tells of an elderly fisherman named Davy Llewellyn, who sails a ketch between Porthcawl and Barnstaple at the end of the 18th century, and who finds an apparently orphaned two-year-old girl named Bardie. The story takes place over the course of several years, as Davy tries to solve the mystery of Bardie’s origin. It includes a vivid account of the Battle of the Nile, in which Davy takes part while serving in the Navy.

The Maid of Sker is in the public domain, available as an ebook from Project Gutenberg and as an audiobook from LibriVox.

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