Welcome to our website!


gosse marine worms c1850

Philip Gosse, Marine Worms, c. 1850

‘Science at the Seaside: Pleasure Hunts in North Devon’ is a collaborative public engagement project between Bath Spa and Exeter Universities, which seeks to increase public awareness of the rich history of nineteenth-century literary and scientific writing about the North Devon coast, and the role that figures like Charles Kingsley, George Eliot, George Henry Lewes, and Philip Gosse, among others, played in the growth of popular interest in science and natural history in the period.


We have collaborated with local communities in Devon to give a specific regional slant on writing the environment. The project has been inspired by field-work opportunities with regional heritage organisations on the module Writing the West County as part of the MA in Literature, Landscape and the Environment at Bath Spa University. In 2013, we received a grant in the range of £30k from North Devon Fishery Local Action Group (FLAG) to engage new audiences for Ilfracombe Museum through the curation of an exhibition based on the theme of Victorian science, collecting and nature writing, as well as a programme of event for all ages, ranging from sea shore rambles, art work and microscope exploration to writing competitions, magic lantern shows and evening lectures.


Building on work completed so far, since 2014, we have been offering a series of free school sessions on writing and place in Devon, with a particular focus on the local coastal environment. The workshops, which are still ongoing, primarily have a literary focus but with a scientific component, and can be adjusted to the curricular needs of each school. We hope this website will serve as a means to keep you updated on new developments on the ‘Science at the Seaside’ project, and as a resource that will continue to inspire curiosity and interest in the literary and scientific heritage of North Devon and the south west more generally. You can read more about our experiences on the project here.


Dr Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi (Bath Spa University)

Professor John Plunkett (Exeter University)