Lorna Doone Publisher visits The Exmoor Society

PRESS RELEASE : Lorna Doone Publisher visits The Exmoor Society 

George Low, descendant of Sampson Low who published the works of R.D. Blackmore, recently visited the Lorna Doone display at the Exmoor Society Headquarters. In conversation with the archivist and the chairman of the Society he talked about the Low family archives and the publisher’s correspondence with Blackmore. One particular letter dating from the early 1860s showed the struggling author’s immense gratitude that Sampson Low were going to start publishing his work. Suddenly there was the proposal of money, which came pouring in after the publication of Lorna Doone.

Over the years there developed a friendship between Low and Blackmore and they shared fishing holidays together. Blackmore’s knowledge of fishing was well expanded in Lorna Doone and indeed was a vital part of the plot for it is whilst finding loaches in the River Lynn that John Ridd first meets Lorna. Sampson Low visited Exmoor to develop illustrations for a special edition known as the Dulverton edition. Sampson Low materials are now held in the Library of the Open University where George Low was the first editor in education. There are plans to digitise some of the letters and pictures in the different editions of Lorna Doone.

Sampson Low publishers had considerable success with authors such as Thackray and Dickens. They negotiated copyright deals with American publishers and this led to Doone’s great popularity in the States. There was an Anglo-American Lorna Doone Society which published material on the novel. Interest continues, with much archival material held in the States and there is even a Lake and park named Lorna Doone in Florida.

In conversation with George Low, Exmoor Society archivist Dr Helen Blackman discovered that there is a strong connection with Teddington in south west London. Not only did Blackmore live there but Helen was born there and the Lows continue to live there. In fact Helen was at school with the Lows’ children.

George Low said how much he had enjoyed his visit to the Society and that it had been a “voyage back in time to his ancestors and the many authors they had published, in particular Blackmore and Lorna Doone”. The pamphlets, books and maps relating to the novel will remain on display at the Society Headquarters in Dulverton until Easter and can be visited Monday – Friday 10-4. 

Date:     17 February 2016

Press Contact:

Rachel Thomas – 01271 375686 or

Exmoor Society offices 01398 323335

Note to Editors:

The Exmoor Society exists to promote and organise action for the conservation and enjoyment of the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage of Exmoor national park. It was established in 1958 and successfully fought proposals to afforest the Chains, the central moorland of Exmoor. It has continued to campaign against adverse changes and encourages people’s understanding of the park’s special qualities. It acts as an independent watchdog and champion for Exmoor’s status as a national park.