The Maid of Sker
Richard Doddridge Blackmore was born on 7th June, 1825 at Longworth in Berkshire (now part of Oxfordshire), where his father, John Blackmore, was Curate-in-charge of the parish. His mother died a few months after his birth the victim of an outbreak of typhus. With this loss the family moved to Bushey, Hertfordshire, then on to their native Devon. His elder brother Richard (by a year), however, was taken by his aunt to live near Oxford. His father married again in 1831, whereupon Richard returned to live with them. With much of his childhood spent in the lush and pastoral "Doone Country" of Exmoor, and along the Badgworthy Water, Blackmore came to love the very countryside he immortalised in Lorna Doone. In November 1853 he married his wife Lucy. And the following year, 1854, his literary career began with a collection of Poems and for the next 15 years he would write in the winters and garden in the summers. In 1860 with inherited money he built a house in Teddington just outside of London and established a market garden for the cultivation of fruit. He loved horticulture but having little business experience could never really exploit it. However with the publication of Lorna Doone in 1869 he was catapulted to fame. And although he continued to write extensively nothing caught the public imagination quite like Lorna Doone. RD Blackmore died at Teddington on 20th January, 1900 after a long and painful illness, and was buried next to his wife in Teddington cemetery.
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