The former home of crime novelist Harriet Hicks has been discovered abandoned and filled with hundreds of her books 14 years after she went missing.
A group of urban explorers found the ‘house full of books’ in Cornwall and filmed the interior of the decrepit home – filled with decaying food and stacks of unsold crime novels piled to the ceiling.
There were also drawers stuffed with sealed novels that look like they are ready to be published.
Ms Hicks was known for her comedy crime capers and murder mysteries, including Trouble in Topsham, Problems in Polperro and Shooting in St Study, published in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The former home of popular crime novelist Harriet Hicks has been discovered abandoned and filled with hundreds of her books 14 years after she went missing
A group of urban explorers found the ‘house full of books’ in Cornwall and filmed the interior of the decrepit home – filled with decaying food and stacks of unsold crime novels piled to the ceiling
There has been no trace of her since she published her latest book in 2006 and no one knows what happened to her.
The explorers, who work under the name Lost Adventures, have now issued a plea for someone to save what they described as a literature gold mine before it becomes damaged beyond repair.
And they believe there could be unpublished work among the handwritten notes.
One member of the group, known only as Ben, said: ‘We were sent a pin in Cornwall and all they said was ”the house full of books.”
‘We went in and quickly realised it was Harriet Hicks’ house, the famous novelist.
There were also drawers stuffed with sealed novels that look like they are ready to be published
‘They are all her books and there are crates and crates of unsold and brand new copies.
‘In the drawers are written sealed novels that look like they are ready to be published.
‘There were literally hundreds of them. It looked like the place might have been abandoned since 2002 as that was the last calendar on the wall.
‘It looked like a man was living there on his own towards the end. There was nothing to explain it and we could only go by the clues we found.
‘There were a crazy amount of books and they need to be saved. We just went through the house and filmed it as the door was wide open.
Ms Hicks was well known for her comedy crime capers and murder mysteries, including Trouble in Topsham, Problems in Polperro and Shooting in St Study, published in the late 1990s and early 2000s
‘We went round the back fields and were not expecting to see too much. But what we saw was amazing. Someone needs to preserve them. I looked online and her second hand books go for about £30. But here there were definitely at least a thousand of them. There were full crates up to the ceiling of all different books of hers.
‘It was madness.’
Harriet was born in Kingkerswell, Devon, and moved to nearby Torquay at the age of six. She settled in Cornwall in 1940 where she lived ever since. Her last published book was in 2006 but there has been no record of her life online since.
Ben added: ‘We don’t know what happened to her but all her stuff is still in the house. No-one has come to collect any of it. There are unwritten and unpublished novels in the bottom of the drawer. If it is not going to be saved it is going to be lost soon as there is so much weather damage.
There has been no trace of her since she published her latest book in 2006 and no one knows what happened to her
‘We are not sure who to tell or report it to so all we can do is get the word out there and make a plea for someone to step in before it is too late.’
‘It is like everything she has ever done is there, her whole life’s work so it must be worth saving. It’s insane that it is being left to be destroyed by nature.’
Ben is part of a group of four urban explorers who have been posting You Tube videos for four years.
Among their other explores are finding a whole batch of unreleased Bristol cars that included the president of car which was secretly hidden amongst it. They have also explored abandoned palaces, mansions, estates and prisons.
They filmed their tour which began with them going around the back field covered in nettles and bushes. This leads to the back door which was open and they went inside the bungalow.
The first room they came across was the kitchen which was packed with medicines in the cupboards and all the plates and several bottles of alcohol were still out.
Ben added: ‘We came out of the kitchen into an office and it was absolutely crazy. We came across all the paperwork and there were hundreds of VHS tapes that were numbered.
‘We came across loads of 1940s and 50s family pictures and we even found annuals from 1938 with cartoons that were probably her books as a child.
‘We went into the bedroom which was full of books – hundreds of them still sealed. There were things she had written that I don’t think were published and is still material that could be taken on.
‘The living room was also rammed full of books. There were sealed packets of ten that were stacked and thrown everywhere. You can not see any of the floor – it is all just books.
‘There was another room with more crates of books touching the ceiling. They were 10ft stacks.
‘We left everything as we found it and got out of there. But with all those books and with all that written material it just felt like something needs to happen with it all.’