Indian Island, Devon

He went over in his mind all that had appeared in the papers about Indian Island. There had been its original purchase by an American millionaire who was crazy about yachting—and an account of the luxurious modern house he had built on this little island off the Devon coast (page 1).

 

The Devon Coast
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Devon Coast - Credit: Matthew Venn

Agatha Christie set And Then There Were None on fictional Indian Island, off the coast of Devon, the English county where she was born and lived much of her life. Devon is the fourth largest of the English counties, and is bordered by sea to the north (the Bristol Channel) and the south (the English Channel).

Indian Island is located off Devon's south coast. It is described in the novel as a “smelly sort of rock covered with gulls... about a mile from the coast. It had got its name from its resemblance to a man’s head—an American Indian profile” (pages 14–15). See the third Bookmark for page 1 for more information on Indian Island.

Map of England, County of Devon in red
GNU Free Documentation LicenseMap of England, County of Devon in red - Credit: Nilfanion

In the novel Vera Claythorne describes Devon as “really ... lovely. ... The hills and the red earth and everything so green and luscious looking” (page 21). Later she describes it as “a sleepy county” (page 86). Indeed, Devon is a largely rural area with a low density of population. Dartmoor covers 368 square miles of the county. The Devonian Period of geological history takes its name from Devon, where rocks from that period were first studied.

Other famous children of Devon include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Remember that And Then There Were None was originally published in 1939, long before the advent of cell phones or the Internet. Though land-line phone or telegraph service would have been possible in those days, the island was equipped with neither. Without a boat, the guests are truly completely isolated and at the mercy of “Mr. Owen.”

 

Indian Island? (Actually South Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands)
Creative Commons AttributionIndian Island? (Actually South Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands) - Credit: John Haslam