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Famous literary giants inspired by the Lake District

Jo Spencer - Monday, January 18, 2016

The beauty of the Lake District has inspired more than one famous literary figure over the years and continues to move the many writers, painters and artists who choose to visit the area. The magic of the environment has motivated the production of some pretty famous books, paintings and poetry, with some well-known figures having drawn their inspiration from our hills. Can you name more than one?!

William Wordsworth:

Probably one of our most famous literary figures, the very talented Mr Wordsworth was a major romantic poet who helped to launch the ‘romantic age’ in English Literature. Undoubtedly, his most famous piece of work is ‘The Prelude’ – an autobiographical poem based on his early years. Wordsworth lived – amongst other places – at Dove Cottage in Grasmere with his sister Dorothy (also a writer) and wife, Mary. Following his death in 1850, he was buried in the graveyard at St Oswalds, Grasmere, a mecca for Wordsworth fans.

Beatrix Potter:

Today, Beatrix Potter’s works are loved the world over, both by adults and children. Born into a privileged family, Potter holidayed as a child in the Lake District and was inspired by the flora, fauna and landscape, which she observed closely and painted. With the proceeds from her books, Potter bought ‘Hill Top Farm’ in Near Sawrey and over the following decades, purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. Potter wrote 30 books in all, the most famous being ‘The tale of Peter Rabbit’. Following her death in 1943, she left almost all of her property to the National Trust. Beatrix Potter is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park. The World of Beatrix Potter is in Bowness on Windermere. For further information, visit: http://www.hop-skip-jump.com/

Alfred Wainwright:

If walking is your thing, then you’ll definitely know who Alfred Wainwright is! Born in Blackburn in Lancashire, he first visited the Lake District when he was 23 and fell in love with the landscape and environment. Later moving to Kendal, he devoted his life to mapping the area, writing seven guidebooks. His Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells are a unique mixture of beautiful pen-and-ink sketches, maps and musings. Wainwright died in 1991 and there is a memorial to him in the church at Buttermere. His ashes were scattered above the village on his favourite mountain, Haystacks. Visitors flock to the Lake District each year to embark upon Wainwright’s walks.

John Cunliffe:

The children's literary character ‘Postman Pat’ started life in the 1980’s and most of us will remember him! But did you know he was created right here in the Lake District?! Postman Pat’s many adventures were turned into a TV series and shown in more than 50 countries. His friends include Ajay the stationmaster, Mrs Goggins the postmistress and Jess, his black and white cat. His creator, John Cunliffe, lived on Beast Banks in Kendal for six years and much of his inspiration came from the local Cumbrian countryside. As well as the Postman Pat books, Cunliffe has written nearly 200 books for children!

Arthur Ransome:

Born in Leeds, Arthur Ransome – author of the charming children’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ - learned to sail on Coniston and went to school in Windermere. He first worked in London as a journalist and writer and reported on the Revolution in Russia. There he met his future wife Eugenia, who had been Trotsky’s secretary. The Ransomes lived in the Winster valley and Haverthwaite where he wrote many of the Swallows and Amazons series, the majority set in the Lake District. The books follow the adventures of the Walker and Blackett children camping on islands, mining for gold, fighting fell fires and conquering mountains.

 

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