Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900) was a Berkshire-born novelist most famous for his "romance of Exmoor", Lorna Doone. Other Wessex based works include Cradock Nowell: A tale of the New Forest and Christowell: a Dartmoor tale. Each of these works will be the subject of their own blog post, so I will only give them a cursory treatment here, after briefly surveying Blackmore's life
Blackmore was born in Longworth, Berkshire, the son of the parish curate. His mother died of typhus a few month later, and the family ended up moving back to their native Devon. He spent much of his childhood in the Exmoor countryside that he later came to immortalise as "Doone country". He was educated at Oxford, and later called to the bar in That London.
His literary career initially began with collections of poetry, but it was his third novel, Lorna Doone, that really made his name, and which remains his best-known work. It inspired the Victorian romantic movement in literature, and Thomas Hardy wrote approvingly of it.
His previous work, Cradock Nowell, was set primarily in the New Forest, an area Blackmore only knew from fishing trips. It is perhaps this lack of an intimate connection with the landscape which prevented it from becoming as successful as its immediate successor.
Blackmore returned to Devon for his Dartmoor-set Christowell, published in 1882. The novel was well-received in its day, but is barely remembered now.
Blackmore died in Teddington, Middlesex, and his funeral was reported to be well-attended. Memorials to him were established in Exeter Cathedral, and at the parish church in Oare, Somerset, where Lorna Doone was married in the novel.