The best books capturing the magic of Cornwall

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to write about the places, folklore, nature, and above all the magic of Cornwall. I have lived in Cornwall most of my life, I learned to crawl along the rockpools of Cornish beaches and I went to school in a moorland village. Now, I live on the edge of Bodmin Moor and write in the Cornish wilds, I live close to both the moors and the sea. I began writing for Cornish folklore project Mazed in 2013 and I have been retelling Cornish Folk Tales and writing poetry and stories inspired by Cornish folklore ever since. 


I wrote...

Cornish Folk Tales of Place: Traditional Stories from North and East Cornwall

By Anna Chorlton,

Book cover of Cornish Folk Tales of Place: Traditional Stories from North and East Cornwall

What is my book about?

Cornish Folk Tales of Place is packed with Cornish magic. Up on the misty moors, you will meet both mean and healing witches, mischievous and helpful piskeys, rock throwing giants, and ancient kings. Along the salty shores, are crafty smugglers, wicked wreckers, and stormy mermaids. Each tale’s place is introduced and explored detailing their historical and natural wonders and rooting the folk tales into the land. It is illustrated by professional Cornish artists and people from the local community in schools and libraries.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Year of Marvellous Ways

Anna Chorlton Why did I love this book?

Ninety-year-old Marvellous is a river goddess, her whole being is immersed in a Cornish creek, she lives in a caravan beside the water and loves a swim.

Marvellous lives on in my imagination. Nature is an organic part of the novel, time and seasons move with the tide; the reader knows it is spring because the ransoms (wild garlic) are out. I love rivers, they wind their way into my own writing, West Looe River is often my muse as a poet. 

I met Sarah Winman when I stumbled upon her book signing at my local bookshop. I only had enough money to buy Marvellous Ways or shoes to wear to an awards ceremony that evening. I realized no one would notice my old shoes so I bought the book and loved every page.

By Sarah Winman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Year of Marvellous Ways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS is the unforgettable and completely captivating new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT.

Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she's taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone by the river with a telescope. She's waiting for something - she's not sure what, but she'll know it when she sees it.

Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying…


Book cover of Cornish Folk Tales

Anna Chorlton Why did I love this book?

Cornish Folk Tales takes the reader on a journey into the heart of Cornish Storytelling.

I have listened to Mike O’Connor many times and he is a master storyteller. I love the Cornish Droll telling tradition; droll tellers went from place to place telling tales for a bed and a bite to eat. The narrators of Cornish Folk Tales, blind droll teller Anthony James and his guide young Jamie are a perfect combination.

Mike O’Connor, through Anthony tells the tales with anecdotes, music, history, and Cornish language. This book taught me how to approach folklore retelling in an accessible way.

Reading I felt myself beside the firesides of Cornwall, listening to tales of dragons, mermaids, giants, and saints; puzzling over riddles, and learning about Cornish traditions and music

By Mike O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cornish Folk Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ancient land of Cornwall is steeped in mysterious tradition, proud heritage and age-old folklore. Before books were widely available, wandering 'droll tellers' used to spread Cornish insight and humour to all parts of the Duchy - exchanging their tales for food and shelter. Anthony James was one such droll teller, and this collection follows him as he makes his way around Cornwall one glorious summer. Richly illustrated with hand-drawn images and woodcuts, Cornish Folk Tales will appeal to anyone captivated by this beautiful land and its resident kindly giants, mischievous piskeys, seductive mermaids, bold knights and barnacle-encrusted sea captains.


Book cover of Jamaica Inn

Anna Chorlton Why did I love this book?

I live on the edge of Bodmin Moor not far from Jamaica Inn, I love the magic of the Cornish moors in Jamaica Inn, the endless bogs, misty tors, granite boulders, and wild abandon.

I rooted for Mary Yellan on her brave expeditions across the moors, I too like to take off and lose myself in their wild wonder. I enjoy the risky romance between Mary Yellan and Jem Merlyn and the obsessive darkness of Jamaica Inn with its cold-locked rooms and searing undercurrent of fear.

There is a contrasting mix of religion and criminality. You can almost smell the horses, hear smuggling wagons crossing the moor at night, feel constant movement and suspense. 

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Jamaica Inn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. There she finds Patience a changed woman, downtrodden by her domineering, vicious husband Joss Merlyn. The inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals, and Mary is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself.


Book cover of Collected Poems, 1951-1975

Anna Chorlton Why did I love this book?

Charles Causley’s poems celebrate every turn of Cornwall’s stride. He writes of the sea, towns, moors, and people with incredible imagery humor, and tragedy.

The poems ask questions of love and nature. "And careless, like tide-marks, the hedges / Are bursting with Almond and May." Causley sings the magic of Cornwall, ‘Its anchor is glittering granite," "His smile was sharp as tin."

My favorites are the ballads, I was inspired to write the Caradoc ballads by reading Causley’s ballads over and over. Folklore underpins many of his poems, there are mermaids, giants, saints, and even a baby devil.

By Charles Causley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collected Poems, 1951-1975 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The collected work by poet, Charles Causley.


Book cover of North Cornwall Fairies And Legends

Anna Chorlton Why did I love this book?

Enys Tregarthen’s tales have bought Cornish magic into every home for a hundred years.

I have spent a lot of time with her books and retold many tales in my book. North Cornwall Fairies and Legends is a basket full of piskeys, (the Cornish fairy folk.) One of my favourites is the Piskey’s Revenge, which I retold for Cornish storytelling project Mazed. It is illustrated by Steven Lambert, and used in Cornishibai street storytelling.

It tells how Granfer accidentally digs up the piskey beds, in revenge, the piskeys eat all Granfer’s birthday biscuits. Enys writes about the children of Cornwall and what they encounter: they meet piskey friends up on the moors, little stone figures come alive in towns and aways there is an excuse for piskey mischief.

By Enys Tregarthen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked North Cornwall Fairies And Legends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


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Book cover of The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

Kay Freeman Author Of Hitman's Honey

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

It began with a dying husband, and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978.

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A second chance at love, opposites attract, rags to riches heroine trope story.

The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

What is this book about?

It began with a dying husband and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978. It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance or will the opposite happen? A second chance at love, opposites attract , rags to riches heroine trope story.


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