Winston Graham was one of the most successful and prolific novelists of the twentieth century. He wrote
in many genres but his best known body of work was undoubtedly the twelve historical novels set in
Cornwall at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries which became known as The Poldarks.
Although it is the Poldarks that brought Winston Graham the most fame, he also wrote more than thirty
other novels, six of which have been filmed (including Marnie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1964), as well
as short stories, historical works, plays and film scripts. His novels are translated into more than seventeen
languages and many were selected as dollar book club choices in the USA.
In 2008, to mark the centenary of Winston Graham’s birth and his long connection with Cornwhall, te Royal
in Truro held a hugely successful Centenary Exhibition — Poldarks Cornwall: the life and
works of Winston Graham
. It included the trilby hat without which he never went out, personal memorabilia
and many of his manuscript notebooks. The exhibition opened with the announcement of the Winston
Graham Historical Prize
for an unpublished work of historical fiction.
In the same year panmacmillan
re-published The Poldarks series. Seven of these had been televised by the
in the 1970s (the first such historical series by a living author produced by the BBC). They were such a
success — with audiences reaching 14 million on Sunday evenings — that vicars moved or cancelled church
services rather than try to hold them when Poldark was showing.
The Centenary Exhibition along with the re-publication of the Poldarks provided the excuse for a party. The
weekend of 28th/29th June 2008 saw Winston Graham’s family along with many of his dearest friends
including Christopher Biggins, Angharad Rees
and Jane Wymark
(actors in the Poldark series) all in Cornwall.
They had gathered together to celebrate Winston Graham’s unique style of story-telling and gifts as a writer
in the beautiful scenery of North Cornwall where he had grown up and which he had so loved.