Winston Graham is almost certainly best known for his series of twelve novels set in Cornwall
at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries and which were televised as
Poldark by the BBC in the 1970s with Angharad Rees, Robin Ellis and Ralph Bates in the
main roles. The Poldark novels are being republished by panmacmillan in June 2008.
At the centre of the Poldarks are five main characters: Ross Poldark, Elizabeth Chynoweth,
Francis Poldark (Ross‘ cousin), George Warleggan and Demelza Carne. Winston Graham once
said he could have written the story-line — the loves and hates of these characters — on
the back of a postcard. In the end it took him twelve novels written over a span of fifty-seven
years to complete this fascinating and compelling historical saga. In addition to their romantic
power, the novels depict with great accuracy the fluctuating fortunes of mining, the conditions of
the time in the countryside and in the fishing communities and the great rivalries between the
competing banking and mining families (represented in the novels by the Poldarks and the
Winston Graham wrote many other books, plays, short stories, and screen plays (over 50 works
in all including the Poldarks). The early books, written in the 1930s and during the war, were
thrillers and Winston Graham often described them as ‘deservedly out of print’. In the 1950s
and 1960s he started writing sophisticated suspense novels. Many of these were filmed, the
most famous being Marnie. Other works included a history of The Spanish Armadas, an
historical novel, The Grove of Eagles, an autobiography, Memoirs of a Private Man and another
‘semi’ autobiography about his life in Cornwall and the making of the Poldarks — Poldarks
Cornwall — with wonderful photos by Simon McBride. But it was only after the televising of the
Poldarks that he felt his name became familiar to the public. Before that he was frequently
heard to describe himself somewhat wryly as the most successful unknown author in England.
Many of Winston Graham’s books were selected as dollar book club choices in the USA. The
first of these, and the one that gave him most pleasure, was Cordelia a novel set in the late
19th century against the backdrop of the rising middle classes in the north of England, a
milieu he knew well from his mother and the stories she told him as a young man.
Winston Graham Literary Agents: A.M. Heath & Company Ltd.