Author Patricia Nicol unveils a selection of the best books on lighthouses

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Author Patricia Nicol unveils a selection of the best books on lighthouses

  • Patricia Nicol unveiled her best selection of books on lighthouses
  • Emma Stonex’s Says The Lamplighters is a literary suspense mystery
  • Writer Robert Louis Stevenson chose literature over following his grandfather, father and uncles in lighthouse engineering










One of my favorite jobs when working (briefly) for a regional newspaper in Scotland was touring lighthouses and coastguard posts in the late evening.

It was like my own personal expedition news. I would call somewhere like Fair Isle or Cromarty and ask, “Did something happen?

In my mind, I imagine a person positioned at the top of a lighthouse, watching the choppy or placid sea, perhaps dressed like Captain Haddock of Tintin.

At that time, the last operating lighthouses in the UK were in the process of automation. Yet they still exert literary attraction as destinations, lonely sanctuary places, and guiding lighthouses.

Particia shared The Lamplighters is one of her favorites

Patricia Nicol unveiled her best selection of lighthouse books, including To The Lighthouse (left) and The Lamplighters (right)

Emma Stonex’s The Lamplighters is a literary thriller, with a dark Cornish backdrop.

In December 1972, a rescue boat arrived at the desolate Maiden Rock Lighthouse, off Land’s End, to discover the locked entrance, a meal for two, the clocks set, and the chief warden’s diary describing nonexistent storms.

More strangely, the three guards have disappeared. Twenty years later, an author contacts the widows of men to write a book on the effects of these events.

Stonex was in part inspired by the actual demise of the keepers of the remote Hebridean lighthouse, Eilean Mor, in 1900.

Another Scottish island lighthouse, Eilean Ban, is said to have been Virginia Woolf’s inspiration for her novel To The Lighthouse. The Woolf Classic is a tale of two summer trips, separated by World War I, to the Ramsay family’s vacation home on the Isle of Skye.

Writer Robert Louis Stevenson chose literature over following his grandfather, father and uncles in lighthouse engineering.

But surely their stories informed Kidnapped’s vivid shipwreck scene? The heroic history of her ancestors in building life-saving coastal structures is explored in Bella Bathurst’s non-fiction book The Lighthouse Stevensons.

If you take our seas this summer, have a thankful thought for those who are trying to make them safer.

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