Great News For All Readers

In order to save on costs, this website will soon be merging with that of the Wessex Regionalists to form a new site: You don’t need to do anything, initially, this website will initially redirect automatically to the new site. However, this redirect will only be in place until the domain name expires on 22nd August, so please update your bookmarks.

I can’t tell you exactly when the switchover will happen, as there is still a bit of work to be done ironing out the kinks with the new site, but hopefully it should be a matter of days rather than weeks. See you on the other side.

Wessex In Fiction: The Man On The Moor

The Man On The Moor is a 2004 novel by John Van Der Kiste, set on Dartmoor on the eve of the First World War. George Stephens, an office clerk from London is found dead at the side of a Devon road. He appears to have been the victim of an accident, but his mother claims that he is the son of the Kaiser. As events unfold, it starts to look increasingly like murder.

The Man On The Moor is a slow, leisurely thriller, suited to the pace of Dartmoor life. The author lives in Devon, and has written many books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the county. He was a consultant on the 2003 BBC documentary The King, The Kaiser And The Tsar.

Wessex Attractions: Sir Bevil Grenville’s Monument

Sir Bevil Grenville (1596-1643) was a Cornish nobleman who was one of the leaders of the royalist Western Army during the English Civil War. He led 1500 Cornish pikemen at the Battle of Lansdown, where he was killed.

In 1720, his grandson, Henry Grenville ordered a monument to be built on the site of the battle. It is currently maintained by English Heritage.

The satnav postcode is BA1 9DD, and the monument is on the Bath to Tetbury bus route, Wessex service 620. The what3words is ///indicates.evidence.landowner.

Wessex in Fiction: Escape

Escape was a 1928 play by John Galsworthy, best known as the author of The Forsyte Saga. It tells of World War 1 veteran Captain Matt Denant, who in trying to protect a streetwalker from the attentions of a persistent Metropolitan Police officer, accidentally kills the policeman in a scuffle, and is sentenced to five years in Dartmoor prison for manslaughter. It has been filmed twice, in 1930 and 1948.

The 1930 film was one of Britain’s earliest talkies, and starred Gerald du Maurier as Denant. Much of it was filmed on location, including scenes set on Dartmoor when Denant escapes from prison. The film was a critical success, but a commercial failure, and barely got a release in the US, where it was supposed to benefit from a distribution deal with RKO.

The 1948 remake starring Rex Harrison updates the story to make Denant a veteran of the Second, rather than the First World War, and makes him an RAF squadron leader rather than an army captain. The film was directed by acclaimed director Joseph L Mankiewicz, who was praised for expanding it visually, beyond the constraints of its theatrical origins.

Escape is an examination of the British class system, through the various people Denant meets after his escape, who either aid or obstruct him. Much is made of the perception of Denant as a gentleman, which colours people’s perception of him.

Wessex In Fiction: The Oxford Murders

The Oxford Murders is the English-language title of the 2003 novel Crimenes Imperceptibiles (literally Imperceptible Crimes) by the Argentinian novelist and mathematician Guillermo Martinez. It was subsequently adapted into a 2007 film starring John Hurt, Leonor Watling and Elijah Wood.

It tells of a series of murders at Oxford University that use mathematical symbols as a key, which are solved by a professor of logic, played by Hurt in the film, with the aid of one of his students.

The book delves fairly deeply into mathematical topics, which can be offputting to the general reader. It is written in the Latin American magical realism style, so people’s perception of the book tend to be coloured by their opinions on that tradition.

The film, directed by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia, won several awards in Spain, though it was filmed in English, and changes the nationality of the student protagonist (played by Wood) from Argentinian to American.

The film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, rated 15.