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Biography of Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Portrait of Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Richard Doddridge Blackmore was a nineteenth century novelist best known writing for “Lorna Doone”.

When and Where was he Born?

7th June 1825, The Vicarage, Longworth, Berkshire, England. Christened Richard Doddridge Blackmore.

Family Background:

R.D. Blackmore was the son of the John Blackmore the Curate of Longworth.

Education:

Squire’s Grammar School in South Molton and then Peter Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon where his father had studied. Exeter College, Oxford where he read classics.

Timeline of R.D. Blackmore:

His mother died of typhus when he was three months old and he was brought up by his Aunt Mary in Oxfordshire.

1831: Blackmore is back living with his father in Devon with his father’s new wife Charlotte. He spends much of his childhood in Exmoor in Devon in what has now become known as “Doone Country.” Here he hears tales of outlaws who lived among the remote hills and valleys.

1852: Blackmore is called to the bar but never actually practises due to his epilepsy. He goes on to teach Greek and Latin at Wellesley Grammar School.

1853: He publishes some poems under his pseudonym “Melanter” which is Greek for more black. He marries Lucy Maguire at Holy Trinity Church, Holborn, London.

1860: Blackmore inherits some money from his uncle the Rev H. H. Knight of Neath in South Wales and he and his wife use it to build a house in Teddington, near London, called Gomer House. He becomes a keen grower of plants and fruit whilst translating the works of Horace and Virgil. He publishes essays on fruit growing.

1875: Death of his brother Henry John Turberville of poisoning.

1883: He becomes a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Although his fruit business never becomes a great business triumph he finally achieves moderate fame with his novel “Lorna Doone” an historical romance which is partly fictionalised and partly true. It is set in seventeenth century Exmoor where a young farmer John Ridd tries to take revenge on the Doone Clan, who are originally from Scotland, who had killed his father when he was young. Ride falls in love with Lorna Doone

1888: Death of his wife Lucy. He is then cared for by his nieces Eva and Adalgisa Pinto-Leite. He corresponds with many literary notables of the day especially Thomas Hardy.

When and Where did he Die?

20th January 1900, Teddington, England from rheumatism and bowel problems.

74.

Age at Death:

Written Works:

1855: “Epullia”. “The Bugle of the Black Sea”
1860: “The Fate of Franklin”
1864: “Clara Vaughan”. “The Maid”. (Blackmore’s favourite work)
1866: “Craddock Nowell”. (first serialised in Macmillan’s Magazine)
1869: “Lorna Doone”
1872: “The Maid of Sker”
1875: “Alice Lorraine”
1876: “Cripps the Carrier”
1880: “Mary Annerley”
1882: “Christowell”
1884: “Sir Thomas Upmore”
1887: “Springhaven”
1890: “Kit and Kitty”
1894: “Perlycross”
1896: “Tales from a Telling House”
1897: “Dariel”

Exmoor Pony
Typical scene on the Exmoor moors with Exmoor Pony (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Marriage:

1853 to Lucy Maguire at Holy Trinity Church, Holborn, London.

Site of Grave:

Teddington Cemetery, Teddington, London, England alongside his wife Lucy.

Places of Interest:

DEVON:

Memorial Tablet, Exeter Cathedral. Erected by a committee including Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling.

SOMERSET:

“Doone Valley” at Oare in Exmoor National Park .

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