Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Exmoor

*Exmoor. Moorland in southern England overlapping the counties of Somerset and Devon. The flat sweep of moorland south of Plover’s Barrows farm has bogs here and there with brushy areas around them. Deep ravines run inland from the sea. The fertile valleys are either wooded or farmed.

Exmoor has changed little since the time in which Lorna Doone is set. From his childhood home in nearby Newton, Glamorganshire, R. D. Blackmore could see the heights of Exmoor. The roads across the moors are often deep in mud and prone to being covered with dense fog. Dulverton, the home town of John Ridd’s great-uncle Reuben Huckaback lies at the southern edge of the moor.

Plover’s Barrows

Plover’s Barrows. Farm of the protagonist and narrator, John Ridd. Located in the East Lynn River valley, it is the largest of three farms in the valley and is the closest to the coast. The farmyard is surrounded by outbuildings—a barn, a corn-chamber, a cider press, a cow house, and stables—and orchards lie beyond. The farm’s rooms are underground so that both people and animals are warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The farmhouse has a kitchen and parlor downstairs and several rooms upstairs. John Ridd’s room, under the rafters, faces east and from the latticed window he can see the yard, the wood-rick, and the church in the village of Oare in the distance.

Doone Valley

Doone Valley. Home of the outlaw Doone clan; an oval-shaped green valley surrounded by eighty-to one-hundred-foot cliffs of sheer black rock. The valley is traversed by a winding stream, on the banks of which are fourteen one-story square houses built of stone and wood. Sir Ensor Doone’s house is closest to the Doone-gate. Carver Doone’s house is lowest in the valley.

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(The entire section is 759 words.)

Setting

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Exmoor is a large region of moorland, mountains, and forests shared by Devonshire and Somersetshire in southwestern England. The best-selling...

(The entire section is 184 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Unlike novelists such as Gustave Flaubert or Henry James, who exercised complete control over the materials that went into their fiction,...

(The entire section is 710 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In John Ridd, Blackmore presents a man of unusual strength and strong conscience. A devout Christian who feels he is closely in touch with...

(The entire section is 336 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Would John Ridd: Yeoman of Exmoor have been a better name for this novel? Consider that Ridd, as narrator and hero, appears in many...

(The entire section is 261 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Monmouth's Rebellion forms part of the background in Lorna Doone. Who was James Scott, Duke of Monmouth? Why did he lead a...

(The entire section is 313 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Of Blackmore's other novels, The Maid of Sker, Alice Lorraine, and Springhaven are possibly the best. Blackmore's plots and...

(The entire section is 236 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Baker, Ernest A. The History of the English Novel. Vol. 9, The Day Before Yesterday. 1936. Reprint. New York: Barnes and Noble,...

(The entire section is 219 words.)

Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Budd, Kenneth George. The Last Victorian: R. D. Blackmore and His Novels. London: Centaur Press, 1960. A good introduction, connecting the plot to legend and to children’s nursery tales. Analyzes Blackmore’s style and lyricism, rebutting accusations of wordiness and lack of realism. Favorably compares Blackmore to other Victorian rural novelists.

Burris, Quincy Guy. Richard Doddridge Blackmore: His Life and Novels. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973. Discusses Blackmore’s attitudes about nature and civilization, analyzing plot, character, and theme. Compares Lorna Doone with other Blackmore novels, tracing symbol and imagery, recurring ideas, and character types.

Dunn, Waldo Hilary. R. D. Blackmore. New York: Longmans, Green, 1956. Although marred by some inaccuracies about Blackmore’s father, provides the best introduction to his life and work. Discusses details of various editions and Blackmore’s changing views about Lorna Doone by comparing the prefaces to various editions of the novel.

Elwin, Malcolm. Victorian Wallflowers. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1966. Presents Blackmore as an unjustly neglected author by providing a literary history of the period, comparing Blackmore’s works with Anthony Trollope’s and Thomas Hardy’s. Asserts Blackmore’s portrayal of rural England ranks with Dickens’ portraits of cockney London.

Sutton, Max Keith. R. D. Blackmore. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Provides an excellent beginning source, the most detailed critical study of Lorna Doone. Short biography provides updated information about Blackmore’s life. Extensive discussion of the novel’s mythic nature, both as an initiation rite and as a re-creation of the story of Persephone and Demeter. Analyzes character, theme, symbol, and language.