Novels & Writing
Winston Graham is almost certainly best known for his series of twelve novels set in Cornwall at the end of the 18th and
beginning of the 19th centuries. They were televised as Poldark by the BBC in the 1970s. They starred Angharad Rees,
Robin Ellis and Ralph Bates in the main roles. In 2015 a totally fresh adaptation for the BBC was broadcast, starring Aidan
Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson. In 2015, new editions of the Poldark novels were published by Pan Macmillan
with the BBC1 TV series and similarly, in 2016 re-publications of further novels are available in from September (also
available as e-books).
At the centre of the Poldark saga are five main characters: Ross Poldark, Demelza Carne, Elizabeth Chynoweth, Francis
Poldark (Ross’ cousin) and George Warleggan. Winston Graham once said he could have written the storyline on the back
of a postcard. In the end it took twelve novels written over a span of fifty-seven years to complete this fascinating and
compelling historical story of love and hate, poverty and riches all set in the alluring country and seascapes of Cornwall.
In addition to their romantic power, the novels depict with great accuracy the fluctuating fortunes of mining, the
conditions of that time in the countryside and in the fishing communities and the great rivalries between the competing
mining and banking families (represented in the novels by the Poldarks and the Warleggans).
Winston Graham wrote many other books, plays, short stories, and screen plays (over 50 works in all including the
Poldarks). The early books, written in the 1930s and during the war, were thrillers and Winston Graham often described
them as ‘deservedly out of print’. However an early novel, Cordelia (1949) was selected as a dollar book club choice in the
USA which gave him particular pleasure. Set in the late 19th century against the backdrop of the rising middle classes in
the north of England, it was a milieu he knew well from his mother and the stories she told him as a young man.
In the 1950s and 1960s Winston Graham started writing sophisticated suspense and contemporary novels. Many of these
were filmed, the most famous being Marnie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1964. Others included The Walking Stick
(1967), Angell, Pearl and Little God (1970) The Green Flash (1986) and Stephanie (1992). The writing of these more
contemporary novels was interspersed with succeeding ‘batches’ of Poldarks – the first four had been written in the
1950s, then a long pause before another three came along in the 1970s, with three more in the early 1980s. A six year
gap ensued before the next one in 1990 and then it was twelve years until the last, Bella Poldark, which was completed in
2002, just a year before Winston died.