West Dorset has attracted and inspired many famous visitors and residents.
Thomas Hardy, our most famous literary resident, lived in Dorset for most of his life. A Thomas Hardy Trail is available that guides you around Dorset and the settings used in Hardy's novels. Many of these stories have been made into films created on location here in West Dorset.
2008 marked the eightieth anniversary of the writer's death on 11th Janury 1928.
William Barnes, one of our finest English dialect poets, spent most of his working life in Dorchester, the County Town. Barnes was a mentor to a young Thomas Hardy, and was one of the founder members of the Dorset County Museum.
The town of Lyme Regis was Jane Austen's seaside residence in 1803, becoming the inspiration and the setting of her novel 'Persuasion'. The recent ITV production of this tale was filmed on location at the Cobb, the town's famous harbour.
The popular children's author Beatrix Potter also visited Lyme Regis, and depicts the former seventeenth-century coaching inn, The Mariners Hotel in Silver Street, in her illustrations for 'The Tale of Little Pig Robinson'.
Henry Fielding was also from Lyme Regis, his most famous novel being 'Tom Jones'.
'The French Lieutenant's Woman' was filmed in Lyme Regis in 1980, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. The novel was written by local author, John Fowles, who resided in the town for most of his life.
Local scientist and fossil-hunter, Mary Anning, discovered the world's first ichthyosaur on the coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth in the nineteenth-century.
On a hill near Portesham stands a monument, erected in 1844 to commemorate Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. He is most famously known as Nelson's 'Kiss me Hardy'.
Sir Frederick Treves was born in Dorchester in 1853. He wrote 'The Elephant Man and other Reminisces' but not before he famously cancelled the Coronation of King Edward VII.
Fra Newbery was a leading figure in British art and design at the turn of the 20th century. Raised in Bridport, he began his training at the Bridport School of Art in 1871, before eventually becoming a Director of the prestigious Glasgow School of Art from 1885 - 1917.
April 2008 sees a month-long, county-wide celebration of the life and work of the artist Fra H Newbery in A Dorset Trail.
T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) did not write about Dorset, but he is buried in the West Dorset village of Moreton, and his last home at Cloud's Hill is open to the public.
The Reverend John White played an important part in the Puritan emigration to America in the 17th Century. The Reverend himself did not accompany them, but he made them promise to build a church as soon as they landed, which they did. To this day the church in New Dorchester, Massachusetts is known as the 'Daughter of John White'.
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