The Rivieras Travel Writing Atelier


Atelier – Workshop Day on the English Riviera

The Research Masters programme with Plymouth University frequently uses fieldwork to work through a particular aspect of Travel Writing.  For example, in the first day-long workshop or atelier, the School was celebrating its recent ERASMUS+ link with Cannes University on that other Riviera.  Hence the plural, Rivieras.

We spent the day in Torquay led by Westcountry Travel Writer, Tim Hannigan, questioning the idea of veracity in travel literature.  Should the writer tell the truth?  Often travel articles draw on the historical events that took place in a town, should these be treated accurately or can the author play with fact and fiction to bring a little magic into the story?  Providing the readers are given signs that disbelief must be suspended for the reading, this seems a fair bargain. The readers gain more enjoyment and hence value from the narrative and mystery in the piece. To send the signal to my readers that my piece from our day on the Riviera has a touch of magic in it I start with a verse from Hafez (1325-1390), from Shiraz:


The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He knows.

While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the beautiful rowdy prisoners.

Hafez, 14th century poet.


Mansfield, C (2014) Dropping Keys: Travel Writing from the English Riviera, Plymouth. TKT. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4348.2727 Available at

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Thatcher Rock, Torbay, English Riviera