Thursday, June 7, 2012

R.D. Blackmore wrote Lorna Doone

R.D. Blackmore
It is the birthday of English novelist R.D. Blackmore (1925), whose romantic novel Lorna Doone (1869) achieved great success in both England and the United States, spawned several movie and TV adaptations, and even inspired a cookie. Blackmore was immensely popular in England at the end of the 19th century but most of his 21novels have been largely forgotten. Blackmore was admired for his vivid language in describing the countryside of Devon in Western England, where his works are set. He produced a strong sense of place and is especially lauded for his connection with nature. He took great pains to make his dialogue reflect the speech patterns of the characters of his region. His most popular novel has never been out of print. The title character, whose name apparently had Scottish origins, is the granddaughter of the head of a clan of outlaws. She falls in love with the son of a prominent farmer who was brutally murdered by her clan. The story is set in the late 17th century against a backdrop of actual historical events, though Blackmore wasn't inclined to call it a historical novel. Many events are set on dates specifically mentioned in the book. The story was filmed at least five times, the best known version, perhaps, being the 1951 production starring Barbara Hale and Richard Greene. It also was a TV series at least twice. As for the cookie, Nabisco says its version of Lorna Doone is a shortbread cookie introduced in 1912. Shortbread is said to have originated in Scotland and is made all over the United Kingdom.

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