The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley has provided inspiration to many literary legends.
From Puzzlewood to Chepstow, many locations in the Dean Wye can be recognised in some of your favourite fantasy novels including The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter as well as some beautiful poetry, inspiring literature and cultural individuals.
English writer, J.R.R Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the Forest of Dean and also conducted work in the area too. During a visit to Puzzlewood, the moss covered stones and the curving trees is said to have provided his inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth in his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy including the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Fangom or Lothorien.
The world renowned fantasy author also worked on the less well known uncovering of a Roman Temple in Lydney Park in 1928 which may have also inspired him further in his creation of Middle Earth.
Popular author, J.K Rowling grew up in Tutshill near the small town of Chepstow and attended Wyedean Comprehensive School where she frequently told stories to her fellow students.
Rowling’s novels regularly acknowledge her childhood roots; the Harry Potter series has frequent mentions of the Forest of Dean and even characters such as Dumbledore is based upon one of her primary school teachers.
The Hollywood film adaptations of Harry Potter also used the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean for filming locations as well as Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English painter. Born in London in 1775, Turner was considered a controversial figure however he is now thought of as the artist who elevated landscape painting.
Turner’s early work includes traditional paintings of English landscapes including Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire.
The Dymock Poets
The small village of Dymock became a base for a group of writers in the years leading up to World War I, the group become known as the Dymock Poets. The poets consisted of seven gentlemen named Abercrombie, Brooke, Drinkwater, Gurney, Gibson, Masefield and Thomas.
Abercrombie and Gibson founded the group in 1914; four issues of literary journals were created but unfortunately the start of the First World War disabled them to continue writing together.
Dennis Potter was born in Berry Hill in the Forest of Dean and attended Bell’s Grammar School in Coleford. Potter pursued a career in writing novels and screen writing for television. His fusion of fantasy and reality provided something new to television dramas and some of his best known works are Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective.
During his career he also produced an array of screen plays which included Casanova which was aired on BBC2. Potter lived with his wife in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire and continued his career as a free-lance writer.
Winifred Foley was a British writer who is best known for writing an autobiographical book in 1974 titled A Child in the Forest. Foley, who was born in Brierley near Cinderford, wrote about her life growing up in the Forest of Dean until she became a teenager. Foley’s forest trilogy included titles such as A Child in the Forest, Back to the Forest and No Pipe Dream for Father.
The book, A Child in the Forest was also made into a BBC Radio Series for Woman’s Hour in 1973. The success of Foley’s writing allowed her family to move from Huntley and live nearer to Newent, it is said that she never lost her love for the Forest.
After her death in 2009, a bench at the top of May Hill in the Forest of Dean was dedicated to her and her late husband.
Frank Oz is an English born American puppeteer and filmmaker. Born in Hereford in 1944, Oz began his career as a puppeteer for Jim Henson’s Muppet characters including Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear.
He is also well known in his career for voicing the wise Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. Yoda first appeared in the 1980’s film The Empire Strikes Back where Oz had a great deal of creative impact for the puppet as well as creating the characters trade mark style of reversed grammar.