January 8th Wilkie Collins (Birth)

One of the closest friends of Charles Dickens and a famous writer in his own right (The Woman in White and The Moonstone), Wilkie Collins wrote a magisterial book about Cornwall, Rambles Beyond Railways (1850) relating his discoveries on an extensive walking tour.

It is fascinating because it was written before the railway extended to Penzance and covers subjects as diverse as the character of the Cornish people, Cornish Holy Wells, The Lizard and The Lands End as well as describing the traditional, but now extinct, mining and pilchard industries and the often neglected matter of ancient and modern drama in Cornwall.

Since he was an already famous novelist his memoir of his travels made Cornwall increasingly popular once the Royal Albert Bridge (May 2nd) had been constructed facilitating direct trains from Paddington to Penzance and his travel memoir was hugely significant in introducing tourism to the county.

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