DORSET has been an inspiration to a number of writers, with many living in the county and drawing on the beautiful countryside to get their creative juices flowing.

Bournemouth has links with Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, while a bungalow in Poole is known for being where author JRR Tolkien retired.

Beautiful locations in Dorset have also sparked inspiration for authors, including Enid Blyton, amongst many more.

Dorset's literary connections are wide and varied so this article will explore the connections and how the county shaped some famous works of literature.

Mary Shelley 

Bournemouth Echo: Richard Rothwell's portrait of Mary ShelleyRichard Rothwell's portrait of Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein on January 1, 1818 following a summer spent with Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont near Geneva.

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, grew from a short story into a novel, and was initially published without an author’s name.

Shelley's success however, was short-lived as tragedy struck her family.

Following Percy Bysshe's death in 1822, Mary returned to England with their son Percy.

In 1849, Sir Percy Florence Shelley bought Boscombe Cottage, which had been built in 1801, and he intended to turn it into a home for his mother, but Mary died from a brain tumour in 1851.

The Shelley home in Boscombe became Groveley Manor School in 1911 and was sold to Bournemouth council in 1936 to become a technical college.

It later housed the Shelley Rooms collection of artefacts, which closed in 2001 as a cost-cutting measure.

In 2005 Bournemouth council sold the site to Charles Higgins Primary Care in 2005. 

The developer created a medical centre but also restored the theatre for public use and in 2011 the theatre hosted its first public performance in 110 years.

Thomas Hardy 

Bournemouth Echo: Thomas Hardy Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, a village in Dorset.

He died in 1928 at Max Gate, a house he built for himself and his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford, in Dorchester, a few miles from his birthplace. 

The county provided Hardy with material for his fictional works and poetry, and he strongly identified himself with Dorset.

An example of this is Historic Wool Bridge, which crosses the River Frome in Wool.

The bridge features in Hardy's novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and according to Historic England, it is the best preserved Elizabethan bridge in Dorset.

In January of 2018, some of the structure's bricks crumbled into the river below. 

It was then closed to allow work to be carried out and repairs were completed at the end of the year. 

Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure are just two of Hardy's wide collection of works.

J.R.R Tolkien

Bournemouth Echo: JRR Tolkein. Photo: AP ImagesJRR Tolkein. Photo: AP Images

Tolkien, who is best known for his books The Hobbit and later the Lord of the Rings trilogy, retired in a Poole bungalow until 1972.

The author lived in the three-bedroom house in Lakeside Road, Branksome Park, which backs on to Branksome Chine, from 1968 but moved back to Oxford when his wife Edith died in 1972.

Despite him living in the house for four years, no real evidence of his ownership remains, but the beams which formed part of his study are still visible.

In 2006, the bungalow was put on the market for £1 million.

Enid Blyton

Bournemouth Echo: Enid Blyton Enid Blyton

The children's author, known for books including the Famous Five series and The Magic Faraway Tree, regularly visited Dorset.

It is believed that the Purbeck landscapes were the muse behind many of Blyton's books, and she was particularly inspired by them when writing the Famous Five series. 

Kirrin Castle is believed to be based on Corfe Castle, Whispering Island is based on Brownsea Island and Mystery Moor is supposedly set on the heath between Stoborough and Corfe Castle.

Also, PC Plod, the rosy cheeked bobby in Blyton's Noddy books, was based on the late PC Christopher Rone of Studland.

Robert Louis Stevenson 

Bournemouth Echo: Robert Louis StevensonRobert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his famous story of transformation, Jekyll and Hyde, while living in Bournemouth in the 1880s.

In 1885 Stevenson and his family moved into ‘Seaview’, a villa on West Cliff Road in Westbourne bought for them by his father, the lighthouse engineer Thomas Stevenson.

The house was renamed ‘Skerryvore’ in commemoration of the lighthouse of that name which Thomas Stevenson had built.

It was in this house Stevenson put pen to paper and wrote two of his most popular novels, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped.

Sadly, 'Skerryvore’ survived until it was destroyed in a German air raid during the Second World War in November 1940.

In the 1950s the site was cleared and a memorial garden was created by the Bournemouth Corporation.

The garden was completed with a stone model of the lighthouse which gave Stevenson's home its name.