Blackmore museumlg

R.D. Blackmore (1825-1900). Courtesy The Twickenham Museum.

Born 7 June 1825
Longworth, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), England
Died 20 January 1900
Teddington, Middlesex, England
Occupation novelist, horticulturist
Literary movement Romantic
Notable work(s) Lorna Doone

Richard Doddridge Blackmore (7 June 1825 - 20 January 1900), best known as R.D. Blackmore, was an English poet, and a famous English novelist of the 2nd half of the 19th century.

Life Edit


Blackmore was born at Longworth, Berkshire, educated at Tiverton School and Oxford, practised for a short time as a lawyer but, owing to his health, gave this up, and took to market-gardening and literature at Teddington. His debut publication was Poems by Melanter (1853), followed by Epullia (1855), The Bugle of the Black Sea (1855), etc.; but he soon found that fiction, not poetry, was his true vocation. Beginning with Clara Vaughan in 1864, he produced 15 novels, all of more than average, and 2 or 3 of outstanding merit. Of these much the best in the opinion of the public, though not of the author, is Lorna Doone (1869), the 2 which rank next to it being The Maid of Sker (1872) (the author's favorite) and Springhaven (1887). A striking feature of Blackmore's writings is his marvelous eye for, and sympathy with, Nature. He may be said to have done for Devonshire what Scott did for the Highlands. He has been described as "proud, shy, reticent, strong-willed, sweet-tempered, and self-centred."[1]

Over the course of his career, Blackmore achieved a close following around the world. He won literary merit and acclaim for his vivid descriptions and personification of the countryside, sharing with Thomas Hardy a Western England background and a strong sense of regional setting in his works.[2]

Youth and educationEdit

Blackmore was born at Longworth, Berkshire, of which village his father was curate in charge. He was educated at Blundell's school, Tiverton, and Exeter College, Oxford, where he obtained a scholarship. In 1847 he took a second class in classics. 2 years later he entered as a student at the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar in 1852,[3]


His debut publication was a volume of Poems by Melanter (1854), which showed no particular promise, nor did the succeeding volume, Epullia (1855), suggest that Blackmore had the makings of a poet.[3]

He was nevertheless enthusiastic in his pursuit of literature; and when, a few years later, the complete breakdown of his health rendered it clear that he must move from London, he determined to combine a literary life in the country with a business career as a market-gardener. He acquired land at Teddington, and set earnestly to work, the literary fruits of his new surroundings being a translation of the Georgics, published in 1862.[3]

In 1864 he published his debut novel, Clara Vaughan, the merits of which were promptly recognized. Cradock Nowell (1866) followed, but it was in 1869 that he suddenly sprang into fame with Lorna Doone. This fine story Was a pioneer in the romantic revival; and appearing at a jaded hour, it was presently recognized as a work of singular charm, vigour and imagination. Its success could scarcely be repeated, and though Blackmore wrote many other capital stories, he will always be remembered almost exclusively as the author of Lorna Doone.[3]

Final yearsEdit

His wife’s health began to deteriorate and became critical by the beginning of January 1888, and she died at the end of that month. The funeral was held on 3 February 1888 in Teddington Parish Church, and she was buried in Teddington cemetery. After her death, Blackmore was looked after by her nieces, Eva and Adalgisa Pinto-Leite.[4]

He continued his quiet country life to the last, and died at Teddington in his 75th year.[3]


Lorna DooneEdit

RD Blackmore memorial

Memorial tablet to R.D. Blackmore, Exeter Cathedral, Exeter, UK. Courtesy Pinterest.

Lorna Doone has the true out-of-door atmosphere, is shot through and through with adventurous spirit, and in its dramatic moments shows both vigor and intensity. The heroine, though she is invested with qualities of faery which are scarcely human, is an idyllic and haunting figure; and John Ridd, the bluff hero, is, both in purpose and achievement, a veritable giant of romance.[3]

The story is a classic of the West country, and the many pilgrimages that are made annually to the Doone Valley (the actual characteristics of which differ materially from the descriptions given in the novel) are entirely inspired by the buoyant imagination of Richard Blackmore.[3]


His poem "Dominus Illuminatio Mea" was included in the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900.[5]

A memorial window and tablet to Blackmore's memory were erected in Exeter cathedral in 1904.[3]

Publications Edit


  • Poems. London: Saunders & Otley, 1854.
  • Poems by Melantor. London: Robert Hardwicke, 1854.
  • Fringilla: Some tales in verse (illustrated by Louis Fairfax-Muckley with James W.R. Linton). London: Elkin Mathews, 1895; Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers, 1895.


Short fictionEdit


  • The Bugle of the Black Sea; or, The British in the East. London: Robert Hardwicke, 1855.
  • The Fate of Franklin. London: R. Hardwicke, 1850.


  • Virgil, The Farm and Fruit of Old: A translation in verse of the first and second Georgics. London: S. Low, 1862.
  • Virgil, The Georgics of Virgil. . London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1871, 1886.


  • Lorna's Author: Letters of R.D. Blackmore to his sister. Chester, UK: Blackmore, 2001.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See also Edit

R D Blackmore - To Fame

R D Blackmore - To Fame

References Edit

  • PD-icon.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Blackmore, Richard Doddridge". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 24. 
  • Budd, Kenneth The Last Victorian: R.D. Blackmore and His Novels. 125 pages. Centaur Press: 1960. ASIN B-000-6D9OE-4. (1960)
  • Burris. Quincy Guy Richard Doddridge Blackmore: His Life and Novels. 219 pages. Reprint Services Corp: 1 January 1930. ISBN 0-7812-7440-0.
  • Dictionary of National Biography. Supplement. Volume 1. [article on Blackmore]
  • Dunn, Waldo Hilary R.D. Blackmore, the Author of Lorna Doone. 316 pages. Greenwood Press: 1974. ISBN 0-8371-7286-1

Notes Edit

  1. John William Cousin, "Blackmore, Richard Doddrige," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910, 37. Web, Dec. 14, 2017.
  2. Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A biography New York: Random House, 1982, 179, 249.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Blackmore, Britannica, 4, 24.
  4. "Victorian Web Biography".  The Five Lives of R.D. Blackmore.
  5. "Dominus Illuminatio Mea", Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch). Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919., Web, May 4, 2012.
  6. Search results = au:R.D. Blackmore, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 7, 2013.

External links Edit

Audio / video

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.. Original article is at Blackmore, Richard Doddridge

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.