Lorna Doone is the most famous and celebrated of R.D. Blackmore's historical romances which were written after he came unexpectedly into a fortune and took up writing and gardening. It is set in late 17th century Exmoor in Badgworthy Valley (now commonly known as 'Doone Valley') where many Blackmore landscapes can still be found. The story is one of romance in the gloomy countryside of Devon in the South West of England where a family of outlaws, the Doones, begin to plague the land. Young John Ridd, the hero of the yarn, is only twelve when the book opens and grows up with the threat of the Doones who have begun to burn farms, attack men and carry off women. At fourteen, John explores the Bagworthy waters, and comes to a black whirlpool while spearing fish and is almost swept away. In these unlikely surroundings he meets a little girl with beautiful dark eyes and a primrose in her hair. It is Lorna Doone, who is cruelly treated by her family. John grows up to be a man of great stature and power and falls in love with Lorna who he must save from the Doones and nature itself in a fierce blizzard. It is a near-tragic romance that includes certain historical figures, including Judge Jeffreys of Bloody Assizes infamy and the Doones themselves who are based on actual historical personages.