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Non-Fiction books inspired by St Ives: Go between the pages of this magical town.

You know, books about St Ives have a hard time doing it justice, but those we feature here have managed it! The magical town on the Cornish coast is brimming with history, creativity and flavour. It’s no wonder that St Ives has become a place of pilgrimage for people who love great art, food and inspiring scenery, attracting visitors from all over the world each year.

For those of you who like to explore incredible places by delving into the pages of a good book, there are an array of titles below exploring the history, art, landscape and food of St Ives. We’ve collected the best ones together for you; it’s the next best thing to exploring in person!

To help us we turned to the experts at St Ives Bookseller who, as you’d expect, really know their stuff when it comes to books about St Ives! You’ll find this fantastic literary emporium on Fore Street. The friendly and knowledgable team are always happy to offer guidance and ideas, and you can also shop online here, supporting a great independent book shop in the process. 

So, without further ado here is the non-fiction pick of the crop (watch out for the second installment of fictional forays for both adults and children, which is coming soon).

Non-Fiction Books Inspired By St Ives

For History Buffs

Cornwall A History, by Philip Payton. The best and really only in-depth history of Cornwall currently available.

Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: A Childhood in St Ives, by Marion Whybrow. Focusing on two of the town’s literary and artistic residents, this is also an excellent look at St Ives and the wider community at the turn of the century.

The Story of St Ives, by Cyril Noall. A small pamphlet history which gives brief overviews on streets, churches and industries over the years. A great introduction!

For Art Lovers

Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life, by Eleanor Clayton. This fully illustrated biography reflects a new insight into the art, life and legacy of the sculptor. Though St Ives is not the main focus this is a must for those wanting to read around Dame Hepworth.

Kurt Jackson’s Sea by Kurt Jackson. Two hundred colour images complement Jackson’s reflections on his interactions with inspirational coastal landscapes – largely experienced in his native Cornwall, but stretching way beyond the county too.

St Ives: The Art and Artists, by Chris Stephens. The definitive account of the modern art made in St Ives between the 1930s and the 1960s, telling the story of this extraordinary artistic community and its legacy.

For Foodies

Porthminster Beach Cafe, The Cookbook. All your favourite recipes from this beach-side restaurant to recreate in the comfort of your own home. Includes their amazing signature monkfish curry!

Scrumptious St Ives: Seasonal recipes from St Ives Farmers Market by Dr Deborah Phillips. A collection of healthy seasonal recipes using ingredients from the local market – proper job!

The Hidden Hut, by Simon Stallard. Although not strictly speaking inspired by St Ives, the Hidden Hut is perhaps the ultimate Cornish food experience. Irresistible feasts to share and remember with family and friends from the ocean, fields and clifftops of Cornwall. Adapted for the home cook and includes delicious, achievable dishes for both small family meals and larger gatherings. 

Sea & Shore: Recipes and Stories from a kitchen in Cornwall, by Emily Scott. In her new book, Emily Scott brings together the magic of this beautiful part of the world, with over 80 simple and seasonal recipes for the home cook.

For A Different Perspective 

Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash. There is the Cornwall Lamorna knew as a child – the idyllic, folklore-rich place where she spent her summer holidays. Then there is the Cornwall she discovers when, feeling increasingly dislocated in London, she moves to Newlyn, a fishing town near Land’s End. Messier and harder; it doesn’t seem like a place that would welcome strangers but she soon gets a glimpse into the life and hardships of a fishing community sustained and defined by the sea for centuries.

Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed, by Catrina Davies. This is the story of a personal housing crisis and a country-wide one, grappling with class, economics, mental health and nature. It shows how housing can trap us or set us free, and what it means to feel at home.

The Salt Path, by Raynor Winn. Bring nature into your home with the uplifting true story of the couple who lost everything and embarked on a journey of salvation across the windswept South West coastline with nothing but their backpacks and some fudge.

Wild Swimming Walks: Cornwall, by Matt Newbury and Sophie Pierce. Discover secret coves, sandy beaches, blue grottoes and moorland pools with 28 magical days out. Combining stunning photography, engaging stories and natural history, with all the practical information you need – detailed directions, route maps, practical ideas and downloadable guides.

With huge thanks to St Ives Bookseller for the above recommendations. Look out for the next installment coming soon…

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