Topic: Doone Street (TDN 18/05/2019)

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Doone Street

With the majority of early English settlers to New Plymouth hailing from Cornwall and Devon, their descendants often looked to those regions when naming roads in the city later on. Doone Street in Lynmouth was inspired by the heroine of the celebrated Victorian novel Lorna Doone, set in Devonshire.

Written by Richard Doddridge Blackmore in 1869, Lorna Doone is an historical romance about farmer John Ridd and his love for the beautiful Lorna. Blackmore (1825-1900) was not born in Devon but often described himself as a Devonian after a childhood spent in the region. The son of a clergyman, his mother died of typhus when he was a baby so he was raised by an aunt who encouraged his passions for fishing and gardening.

Blackmore also proved to be a brilliant student and graduated with a degree in Classics from Oxford. A devout Christian, he loved nature and animals and would regularly adopt stray dogs.

Blackmore tried his hand at a legal career before becoming a school master then market gardener, writing poetry and doing research work for his novels on the side. He had trouble finding a publisher for Lorna Doone at first, but it went on to enjoy huge success.

The phrase "Lorna Doone" quickly became Cockney rhyming slang for spoon and an American biscuit company invented a brand of shortbread called a Lorna Doone. The book was also a favourite of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, who is said to have come up with the idea for his famous armour after reading about the outlaw Doones "with iron plates on breast and head”.

Famous for replicating his characters’ accents and dialects in his writing, as well as for his accurate descriptions of landscape, Blackmore’s bestseller must have appealed to New Plymouth residents with a connection to the southwest counties of England.

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Doone Street (TDN 18/05/2019)

City:New Plymouth