Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Born Today June 7: R. D. Blackmore


British writer R. D. Blackmore (Richard Doddridge) was born on this day in Longworth, Berkshire, England.  His father John Blackmore was Curate-in-charge of the Parish there.  In 1837 he entered Blundell's School located in Tiverton to study the classics; he then won a scholarship to attend Exeter College, Oxford; he took a degree from there in 1847.  During a break from university, he made his first attempt to write a novel (a book that he would finish many years later).  His first job as a teacher was in the capacity of a private tutor.  He then decided to take up the study of the law; eventually being called to the bar in 1852.  By two years later, his ill health lead him to abandon a full time law career, so he instead took up the post of classics master at a grammar school.  In 1857, after inheriting some money from an uncle, he and his wife were able to move to the country and purchase a sizable track with a lot of arable land.  Blackmore then built a home there, eventually going into the fruit cultivation business--occasionally supplying Covent Garden with fresh fruit.  His first published writings came in the form of a volume of poetry, he then turned to novel writing and it is his third novel that he is most remembered for today.  Lorna Doone was published in 1869.  Every single film made using his work as source material has been based on this work.  The first film came in 1911 this version of Lorna Doone was a short made by the Thanhouser Film Corp. here in the US.  Four films of this work were made in the silent era; the last coming in 1922.  The first sound film made Lorna Doone came in a British production dating from 1934.  The work made it's television debut in 1963 when the BBC made a mini-series of it.  The most recent use of the novel for adaptation came in 2000 with a made for television film in the United Kingdom.  Blackmore died at home after some type of long and painful illness that may have been some sort of infection, since he suffered from fever and chills in the end; the date was 20 January 1900.  He was 74 years old.  He was buried in a family plot in Teddington Cemetery next to his wife.

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