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Winston Graham was an English author who wrote the Poldark novels.


Early life

Graham was born at 66 Langdale Road, Victoria, Manchester, England on 30 June 1908. He had pneumonia as a child and was educated at a local day school.

When he was 17, Graham moved to Perranporth, Cornwall where he would live for another fourty years. He had wanted to be an author since a young age, and was supported financially by his mother when his father died, while he tried to get his work published.



Graham published the first Poldark novel, Ross Poldark, in 1945. In 1946, he wrote the second novel, Demelza Poldark. Graham wrote it in an old wooden cottage in Cornwall, and later stated that what "I was writing was not a planned thing" and that he felt "the characters working out their own destiny".[1]

Graham did extensive research for the setting of his books into what was thought to be a lost era of history.[1]

In 1950, Graham published the third novel, Jeremy Poldark and in 1953, he published Warleggan, the last novel for another twenty years. In 1973, Graham published The Black Moon. It is not known why he stopped, but it is thought that he may have felt happy and content with where the characters were, and Graham later said he felt he was pressured to write another book.[2]

Regardless, he wrote another seven novels, starting with The Four Swans in 1976. It was followed by The Angry Tide in 1977 and The Stranger from the Sea in 1981. In 1982, Graham published The Miller's Dance, then The Loving Cup in 1984 and The Twisted Sword in 1990. The last novel, Bella Poldark, was published in 2002.[3]

In 1983, he also published a book entitled Poldark's Cornwall, which reflected on Graham's connection to Cornwall and some of the history of Cornwall which helped when he wrote the books.[3]

Other Work

Graham's first novel, The House with the Stained Glass Windows, was published in 1934.

Graham was an accomplished author of suspense novels and, during the course of his life, wrote thirty-two novels in addition to the twelve Poldark books. The 1941 spy thriller Night Journey, set in Nazi-occupied Europe, captures some of the spirit of the time, with the protagonist believing that Britain was perhaps going to lose the war, but remaining determined to "go down fighting". Other than the Poldark novels, Graham's most successful work was Marnie, a suspense thriller published in 1961.

Graham also wrote a history of The Spanish Armada and the historical novel The Grove of Eagles.

Graham's autobiography Memoirs of a Private Man was published by Macmillan in 2003.


The Royal Cornwall Museum had an exhibition devoted to his life and works entitled Poldark's Cornwall: The Life and Times of Winston Graham from mid-June to mid-September 2008 to celebrate the centenary of his birth, coinciding with re-publication of the Poldark novels by Pan Macmillan.

Additionally, the Winston Graham Historical Prize was initiated as part of the Centenary Celebrations, funded by a legacy from the author and supported by Pan Macmillan.

The majority of Winston Graham's manuscripts and papers have been donated to the Royal Institution of Cornwall by his children.

Personal life

Graham met his future wife, Jean Williamson in 1926. In September 1939, they were married. Jean often helped Graham write his books by giving him ideas, and the character of Demelza Poldark was inspired by her. They had two children, a son, Andrew and a daughter, Rosamund[3]. Their daughter later said that while Graham was the author, her mother helped him with the details. Jean died in 1992.


Graham died at the age of 95, on 10 July 2003. His autobiography was published that same year.

Notes and sources