Thursday, June 2, 2016

Classics Challenge: R.D. Blackmore

"Because I rant not, neither rave of what I feel, can you be so shallow as to dream that I feel nothing?" ~R.D. Blackmore

R.D. Blackmore, or should I say Richard Doddridge Blackmore, could rival Charles Dickens in the hair department. Look at those sideburns!

If you're thinking to yourself, who is R.D. Blackmore? rest at ease. You're not the only one who hasn't heard of him. Though Blackmore was popular in the nineteenth century, today his work is largely ignored, apart from Lorna Doone, which has recently gone out of publication (the only copy I could find was at a college library!).

Blackmore was born on June 7, 1825. He grew up in the countryside of Exmoor, the setting of his most famous work, Lorna Doone. After receiving his primary education, he attended Exeter College where he began penning his first novel, The Maid of Sker. 

Before he ventured into book-publishing, Blackmore sold collections of poetry. Lorna Doone, his third novel, was the most successful. In fact, it established him as one of the most popular British novelists of the time. Lorna Doone reshaped the idea of romantic fiction in English literature.

Blackmore died on January 20, 1900.

Writerly Things to Learn from R.D. Blackmore

1. You can't decide which book of yours becomes the most popular. Lorna Doone was Blackmore's least favorite work, but it's the only one popular enough today to be remembered! He considered The Maid of Sker to be his best work--but when's the last time you saw that on a bookshelf?

2. Fame doesn't last forever. Though Blackmore was popular in his day, the same can't be said for now. Lorna Doone and Jane Eyre were the two books most read by British ladies in the late nineteenth century. But Lorna Doone, unlike Jane Eyre, has faded into obscurity.

3. A small, close group of friends isn't a bad thing. Neighbors claimed Blackmore was reclusive and unsociable, but he just had a select number of friends. This allowed him to spend his energies on his fruit growing and his books. See, anti-social isn't necessarily a bad thing!

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