The Famous Five: Is The Kirrin an Actual Island?

In ‘The Famous Five,’ Dick, Anne, and Julian, London residents, enter an unpredictable summer of thrilling ventures and daunting investigations as they visit their Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny’s family cottage by the coast side for the holidays. There, the siblings meet their cousin, George, known for her recklessly adventurous tendencies, and her loyal sidekick, Timmy, the dog. As the cousins’ arrival comes on the heels of George’s peculiar discovery of a dead diver, the kids’ curiosity grows regarding the nearby Kirrin Island, surrounded by rumors of curses and treasures. Therefore, with the four kids— and their tailed friend— embarking on a mission to unravel the mystery of the Kirrin island and encountering historical conspiracies in the process, the show leads to natural speculation about the reality of the on-screen island. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Kirrin Island and Dorset’s Corfe Castle

Kirrin Island, the central source of mystery and danger in the first two episodes of Hulu’s ‘The Famous Five,’ is confined to the franchise’s fictionality. The show retains a basis in Enid Blyton’s eponymous mystery novel series and subsequently mines most of its narrative and thematic elements from the author’s work. Thus, the Kirrin Island— belonging to George’s family but left abandoned for fear of a rumored curse— originates in the franchise’s first literary installment of 1942, ‘Five on a Treasure Island.’ In the novel, Kirrin Island occupies a similar space of intrigue, providing George and her cousins with a grand mystery to undertake.

While Kirrin Island doesn’t exist outside of Blyton’s work and its numerous adaptations, widespread speculation persists regarding the real-life inspiration behind it. Somewhere in the early 1940s, Blyton visited the Isle of Purbeck peninsula’s Corfe Castle in Dorset. Afterward, after an eerily similar island with a ruined castle became an instrumental tool in the author’s first ‘The Famous Five’ novel, fans started drawing parallels between the fictional island and the real deal. By the 1950s, Blyton and her husband, Kenneth Waters, bought the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club, which saw a feature in 1962’s 20th installment, ‘Five Have a Mystery to Solve.’

Thus, as a precedent was set of a real-life island location’s appearance in Blyton’s work, the belief of Kirrin’s basis in Corfe Castle strengthened. For the same reason, even though the author never confirmed the same, the idea that Corfe Castle was the inspiration behind Kirrin Island continues to grow, fueled by the visual similarities between the two. Nonetheless, the aspect of Kirrin island, which includes historical conspiracies and a hint of the supernatural, remains firmly exclusive to the literary location. The real-life Corfe Castle sports no rumors or folktales about hidden treasures, fountains of wisdom, or damning curses that would draw a similarity between the island and Kirrin.

Therefore, Kirrin’s connections to reality continue to be tumultuous. Even in the show, multiple locations, such as Cornwall’s Port Isaac and Port Gaverne, present the imagery of the ocean, cliffs, and beach surrounding the outside of Kirrin island. Nonetheless, one cannot track down a singular location as the real-life counterpart behind the on-screen island. Therefore, with only a perceived real-life inspiration behind its inception, the Kirrin island remains fictional in nature.

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