Authors inspired by the Geopark
Over the years the beauty and interest of the Bay has attracted many important people, from Charles Kinglsey the late nineteenth century author to the Victorian philanthropist Baroness Burdett-Coutts. The English Riviera has even had a great influence on the work of Dame Agatha Christie, the world's most famous mystery and crime writer who was born in Torquay and lived much of her life in the area. Agatha Christie famously refers to Kents Cavern in her thriller "The Man in the Brown Suit".
In Torquay, the Agatha Christie Mile walk, leads around the seafront, featuring just some of the locations linked with her life, each marked with a plaque and including the only bust in the world of the most published author of all time. It is possible to find out more about the author in the gallery at Torquay Museum dedicated to the writer and each year a week long, Agatha Christie Festival is held, co-ordinated by the Torbay Cultural partnership.
In addition, another famous British author to refer to Kents Cavern was Beatrix Potter. Did she get the inspiration for Mrs Tiggywinkle's underground home from her visit to Kents Cavern? She visited the caves in 1893, the year she wrote the Peter Rabbit letters.
I went on one singular suburban drive with mamma past Anstey's Cove and through a most dreary suburb named St Marychurch to Babbacombe. I was so disgusted with my drive that I privately incited papa into going to Kent's Hole next morning by way of a reviver.
I can imagine no more unlikely or unromantic situation for a cavern. It is in a suburb of Torquay, half way up a tangle bluff, with villas and gardens overhanging the top of a muddy orchard and some filthily dirty cows in the ravine below. I was pretty much exhaused when we found it, but by dint of eating cinnamon and the excitement of going into a cave, recovered.
The dilpidated wooden door was flush into the bank. Outside an artifical plateau or spoil-bank of slate, overgrown. A donkey-cart was encamped and the donkey grazing, the owner a mild, light-haired young man was sawing planks.
Papa inquired if there was anybody here? To which he replied with asperity "I am", put on his coat and prepared to unlock the cavern. The donkey was apparently trustworthy, at least it was there when we came out.
The proprieter (I have already forgotten his name, which I regret for he did amuse me), hung a notice-board on a nail outside the door, to the effect that the Guide is at present inside the cavern, and scrubbed out certain derisive remarks which had been scratched on the portal during his last descent.
I shall not go into details about the cave, which is well described in a pamphlet, and only remark it is very easy to explore and only moderately damp. - Beatrix Potter 1893Here Beatrix Potter is seen at the entrance to Kents Cavern.