The Island has attracted many famous visitors in search of inspiration, including Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, J.M.W. Turner and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Queen Victoria (1846-1901) first visited the Island as a princess in 1831, beginning a 70-year association with the Island. She and Prince Albert moved to the Island in 1864 and the Prince set about re-designing and re-building Osborne House.
Charles Darwin was possibly one of the most famous guests to the Island. He stayed at the Kings Head Hotel in Sandown during the summer of 1867 and it is believed that this is where he began his 'Origin of Species' assessment.
Alfred Lord Tennyson first rented a house (Farringford) overlooking Freshwater Bay in 1853 and later bought it in 1858. Many regions of the Island still bear his name. Lord Tennyson enjoyed the beauty of the Island, however retreated when the tourist crowds became too oppressive. It is believed that Tennyson wrote 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' on the Island and 'Crossing the Bar' on his journey between his home and the mainland.
J.M.W. Turner, the famous artist, was known to visit the Island in May 1795. He re-visited later that year and travelled around sketching many of the Island's beautiful landscapes. Turner later returned as a guest of John Nash, an architect who constructed East Cowes Castle, which was sadly demolished in the 1960's.
Charles Dickens rented a house for the summer of 1845 at what is now the Winterbourne Country House in Bonchurch. He adored the views from St Boniface Downs, northwest of Bonchurch itself. It is believed that one of his most famous novels, 'David Copperfield', was written during his stay on the Island.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, visited Shanklin in 1868. The fountain located outside the Crab Inn in which he spent his time on the Island, still carries an engraving left by him.
J B Priestley, the famous author and playwright, lived on the Island at Billingham Manor House, near Chale Green, until World War Two and at Brook Hill House from 1948. To his inner circle of friends, he was known as 'Jolly Jack', at home a complete extrovert, a house party man. However, to casual acquaintances, he often presented a gruff and sometimes ill-mannered exterior as he walked through the village of Brook on his way to the cliffs at Brook Bay.
Over the years, the Island has been a haven for artists, poets, the rich, the famous and the infamous. Here listed are a few that have put the Island on the map.
Sir Thomas Fleming 1544-1567 - was the Lord Chief Justice who sentenced Guy Fawkes.
Robert Hooke 1635-1648 - the scientist, was born and raised in Freshwater. He was the First Curator of instruments at the Royal Society. Inventor of watch springs and other devices.
King Charles 1 1647-1648 - was held prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle prior to his execution in London.
Dr Thomas Arnold 1795-1812 - was born in Cowes where his father was the collector of Customs. He was headmaster at Rugby School.
John Nash 1798-1835 - the famous architect, built a country Retreat at East Cowes Castle, which was demolished in the 1960's. He retired to the Island in 1834 and died in 1835. He is buried in St James's Churchyard. He was the creator of Newport Guildhall, the country Club and East Cowes Castle.
Algernon Charles 1839-1865 - the poet, died in 1909 Swinburne and is buried at Bonchurch.
Professor John Milne 1850-1913 - British seismologist. Born in Liverpool in 1850 and later moved to Japan where he was a professor of Geology and Mining. After a fire destroyed his home in 1895 he moved to Shile Hill House on the Island. He built an observatory there and many visitors and students came to his house. He died in 1913 and is buried in St. Paul's, Barton.
Charles Seely 1855-1887 - Coal owner. Lived at Brooke House and had Garibaldi as a guest in 1864. 'Father' of House of Commons in the 1880's.
Princess Beatrice 1857-1944 - was the youngest of Victoria and Albert's nine children. She married Prince Henry of Battenburg at Whippingham Church in 1885. In 1889, Prince Henry was made Governor of the Island. On his death in 1896, Princess Beatrice took over the position, which she retained until her own death in 1944.
Julia Margaret Cameron 1859-1875 - the international photographer, moved to the Island in 1859. She bought two cottages, which she converted into one calling it Dimbola, after the family's coffee plantation in Ceylon. This is now a museum and cafe called Dimbola Lodge.
Jack Seely 1868-1947 - Life boatman, soldier in South Africa and First World War (commanding Canadian Cavalry). Statesman (War Minister 1912-1914). Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and Isle of Wight 1918-1947. Lived at Brooke House and Mottistone Manor.
Guglielmo Marconi 1874-1898 - moved to the Island in 1897 to promote his work on wireless telegraphy, establishing the first wireless station in the world at Alum Bay.
Sir Godfrey Baring 1871-1957 - Lived at Nubia House, Cowes. Chairman of Isle of Wight County Council 1898-1957. MP 1906-1919 (for Isle of Wight 1906-1910).
Uffa Fox 1898-1972 - designer of the Flying Fifteen class yachts and constant sailing companion of HRH Duke of Edinburgh, was born on the Island at East Cowes in 1898. He spent most of his life on the Island and is buried in Whippingham graveyard.
Barnes Wallis 1908-1913 - served as an apprentice to J Samuel White's at Cowes before the First World War. He designed the Wellington Bouncing Bomb (Dambusters).
Earl Mountbatten of Burma 1913-1920 - Earl Mountbatten of Burma was a cadet at Osborne Burma Naval School from 1913 to 1919. His father, Louis of Battenburg, retired to Kent House in East Cowes where he lived until his death in 1921. Earl Mountbatten was Governor of the Island from 1965-1979.
Sir John Nicholson 1917-1993 - Lived at Brooke House and Mottistone Manor. Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight 1979-1986.
David Niven 1919-1933 - the famous actor and film star, lived at Rose Cottage, Bembridge.
Earl Jellicoe 1924-1958 - was an Admiral at the Battle of Jutland. He lived at St Lawrence Hall.
Alfred Noyes 1929-1959 - the poet, moved to the Island in 1929 and made his home on the Undercliff at Lisle Combe where his family still live. He is buried at St Saviours, Totland.
Stephen, Lord Ross 1958-1988 - Lived in Newport. MP for Isle of Wight 1974-1987. Newport Leader of Isle of Wight County Council 1973-1974, 1981-1983.
Sir Christopher Cockerell 1959-1961- lived on the Island whilst he was developing the first prototype of the hovercraft at Cowes.
Phillip Norman 1950's - Attended Ryde School and has since written a book about his experience of growing up on the Island.
Alan Titchmarsh - Has a holiday home on the Island
Ellen McArthur - Ellen had her first sailing holiday to the Island at the age of 8.
William the Conqueror 1028 -1087 - Came to Carisbrooke Castle in 1082 to arrest the Bishop of Bayeux.
Oliver Cromwell 1599 - 1658 - Came to Carisbrooke Castle in 1647 before Charles I to see the Governor.
Charles II 1630 -1685 - Came to the Island to confer a knighthood on Edward Worsley. He visited Yarmouth in 1671 and then again in 1675.
Lord Nelson 1758 - 1805 - Victor of Trafalgar stopped off at St Helens on his way to routing the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile.
William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850 - The poet visited Carisbrooke Castle and 'left with melancholy forebodings' of war with the French.
Lord Palmerston 1784 - 1865 - Made visits to the Island. The Needles Battery built in 1863, was part of Lord Palmerston's plan to defend Portsmouth Naval Base and deter Napoleon III.
John Keats 1795 - 1821- The poet stayed at Shanklin. The cliff top promenade at Shanklin commemorates his love of the resort.
Lord Macaulay 1800 - 1859 - Spent the summer at Madeira Hall, Ventnor, working on his 'History of England'.
Benjamin Disraeli 1804 - 1881- Prime Minister, came to pay his compliments to Marconi in 1874.
Issac Pitman 1813 - 1897 - Wrote his shorthand dictionary while staying on the Island.
The famous author of 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and Prejudice' Jane Austen visited the Island in June 1813 and mentions the Isle of Wight in Chapter 2 of 'Mansfield Park'.
Karl Marx 1818 - 1883 - Father of Communism, made three trips in 1874, 1881 and 1883 to Ryde and Ventnor for the state of his health.
John Brett 1831 - 1902 - Pre-Raphaelite artist visited the Island where he painted landscapes.
Lewis Carroll 1832 - 1898 - Author of Alice in Wonderland, visited Alfred Lord Tennyson at his home in Freshwater in 1859.
Winston Churchill 1874 - 1965 - He holidayed on the Island in 1888 at Ventnor with his sister. He visited again in 1889 to recover from an illness and later in 1910 to help the Liberal candidate in an election. The house he stayed at was originally 'Flint Cottage', now the reception to Ventnor Holiday Villas where there is a plaque in his remembrance.
Lawrence of Arabia 1888 - 1935 - In 1935, he visited East Cowes in connection with his work on high-speed motor craft for air sea rescue.
Jimi Hendrix 1942 - 1970 - Played at the 1970s Pop festival.
HRH the Prince of Wales - Opened the Esplanade in Cowes.
Queen Elizabeth II - Visited the Island to launch the start of the 2004 Walking Festival.
Kiera Knightley - Star of Pride & Prejudice and Pirates of the Caribbean was on the Island for a photoshoot at Osborne House for Hello! magazine in 2004.
Callista Flockhart - Of Ally McBeal fame, starred in Fragile, a psychological thriller, filmed on the Island.
Charlie Dimmock - Filmed 'Charlie's River Walks' on the Island and opened the Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival, June 2006.
Ian Wright - Filmed 'Fitter Kids' on the Island in May 2006.
Since it’s relaunch in 2002, the Isle of Wight Music Festival has played hosts to numerous artists and bands including David Bowie, REM, Coldplay, The Prodigy, The Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol, Muse, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Paolo Nutini, Amy Winehouse, Stereophonics, and Groove Armada.