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Vanishing Cornwall by Dame Daphne Du Maurier

Vanishing Cornwall (original 1967; edition 1981)

by Dame Daphne Du Maurier

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197259,709 (3.6)13
Title:Vanishing Cornwall
Authors:Dame Daphne Du Maurier
Info:Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1981.
Collections:To read, unowned, Wishlist, To read
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Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier (1967)


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DuMaurier's Vanishing Cornwall is essentially a long love-letter to a place which deeply effected the author's writing and, it seems, her personality. Her love of the landscape which she saw as changing - and not necessarily for the better - in the 1960s is deeply personal and heartfelt. It's a genuinely lovely evocation of place, and one which not only fans of her writing, but those who love portraits of locales, or those who are fascinated by all of the corners and nooks and crannies of England.

Of particular interest to me were the descriptions of the lives of the tinners, those who first hunted tin in the streams and rivers and sediments of Cornwall, then moved to the mines beneath the earth; and also of the clay workers, who extracted the argillaceous earths for shipment abroad and for the manufacture of fine ceramics domestically.

I'm not sure that her optimism for the future of Cornwall and the Cornish has been realised, and in nearly fifty years the changes to England overall could scarcely have been imagined in 1965. But overall, this book is a fascinating look at a landscape and a people and a culture which, like so many special corners of the world, has fallen to the threat of the modern world. ( )
  Bill_Bibliomane | Aug 1, 2013 |
A very atmospheric read - possibly essential if visiting Cornwall. Filled with mystic interest about Arthurian legends, the initial origins of the Cornish, smuggling, pirating, and tin mining lore, the maternal origins of the Bronte family and other Cornish folklore.

I read it while discovering Cornwall on holiday, and it was a delight, adding a third dimension to our sight-seeing. It would have helped to have a map and some visual points of reference to the stories - an online map helped me decipher the locales. I suspect that the aspect of geography would be even more confusing to the arm-chair traveller, which is possibly the reason that this book is not widely distributed.

Go visit Cornwall - it is a truly magical place. ( )
1 vote kiwidoc | May 14, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Browning, ChristianPhotographermain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of my husband,because of memories shared and a mutual love for Cornwall; and to our son Christian, who photographed the present, while I rambled on about the past. Menabilly 1966.
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Prologue: I saw him thrash about in the long grass with a stick, and suddenly he thrust downwards with his hand and drew forth the wiggling form.
Chapter One: Cornwall projects from the body of England much as Italy falls from the land mass of central Europe.
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From the back cover: An ancient land full of legend and history, Cornwall has nurtured a proud and fiercely independent people--fishermen, boat-builders, tin-miners, china-clay workers--and become a refuge to the artists, writers and sculptors who have drawn inspiration from its wild grandeur and clear light.

Daphne du Maurier has lived in Cornwall for most of her life and uses her intimate knowledge of the country in such enormously successful books as Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, and Jamaica Inn. Here, with her son, the photographer Christian Browning, she has chronicled all aspects of this strange and aloof part of England, fusing history, anecdote and travelogue in an eloquent plea for Cornwall's preservation.

Beautiful, haunting and untamed, Cornwell exerts a potent spell on all who visit it. An ancient land, full of legend and mystery, it has nurtured a proud and fiercely independent people, and has become a refuge to the artists and writers who have drawn inspiration from its natural grandeur. In Vanishing Cornwall, Daphne Du Maurier fuses history, anecdote and travelogue to pay tribute to her adopted home - to the land and the people she loved.
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Part memoir, part travelogue and part history, 'Vanishing Cornwall' is Du Maurier's famous tribute to the county that provided such a captivating background and inspiration for her novels.

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