He had moved to Lyme Regis in October 1965, buying the romantically sited Underhill Farm, right in the Undercliff west of Lyme. He was a full-time writer, and started The French Lieutenant’s Woman only fifteen months after arriving in Lyme, setting it in the town a hundred years earlier (1867). In 1969 he moved to Belmont, actually in the town of Lyme Regis.
John Fowles helped to make the town and its geological setting world-famous through the success of The French Lieutenant’s Woman (published in 1969) and the film made from it. He was Curator of the museum for ten years, and afterwards its archivist. During this time he also published his books Mantissa (1982) and A Maggot (1985).
His generosity and commitment transformed the museum. He funded the establishment of a Friends group and acquired much new material for the collection. He also researched and annotated many documents in the museum’s library.There is more information about his time as curator in our article on the Museum History.
There is a display dedicated to him in the literary gallery and many other objects and paintings acquired during his time are exhibited around the museum.
One of John Fowles’ last published works was a collaboration with the historian John Constable. Together they researched a manuscript, The Lymiad, that had been donated to the Museum by Laurence Whistler. For more information see The Lymiad page.