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Lake District Writers
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge, one of England’s Romantic Poets – sometimes known as Lake Poets – went on walking tours of the Lake District before moving to Keswick, close to his friend William Wordsworth. The two drew inspiration from the land together and apart, yet difficulties in Coleridge’s personal life – including marriage troubles and an addiction to opium – marred his enjoyment of the Lakes and eventually resulted in a move to London.
Beatrix Potter. Best known for her beautifully illustrated books for small children such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter bought a property near Ambleside in 1905. She had a meticulous eye for detail and painted animals, plants, fossils and fungi. Potter’s interest in fungi was rebuffed by the scientific community of the time – surely not an appropriate interest for a woman! It is only in modern times that her illustrations have been fully catalogued and appreciated.
Arthur Ransome. Author of several children’s books, the most famous being Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome drew on his knowledge of the Lake District to create stories embedded in his local landscape. Whilst he used some fictional place names his word pictures make many locations identifiable - for instance the inspiration for North Country Lake came from Lake Windermere and Coniston Water. Ransom’s books are rollicking children’s adventures set in countryside where they can enjoy typical Lake District pastimes including camping, fishing and sailing.
Alfred Wainwright. Wainwright fell in love with the Lake District on his first visit; he climbed Orrest Head near Windermere and at the peak was transfixed by the view of the lake, mountains, pastures and woodlands. His move to Kendal in 1941 to work in the Treasurer’s department allowed him to spend all his free time exploring the land around him. His Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells are nectar for walkers, providing maps, detailed drawings of ascent routes and illustrations of views from the fells he describes. Wainwright’s encyclopaedic illustrations combined with rich narrative based on years of experience and exploration result in unique, collectible guides to the Lake District.
William and Dorothy Wordsworth. William Wordsworth was Lake District born and bred; the richness of his childhood landscape informed all his later work. He studied at Cambridge, lived in Somerset and travelled to France, Germany and Switzerland but Wordsworth was drawn back to the lakes and mountains of his birth. William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere home Dove Cottage is open to the public. The house and surrounding landscape were inspiration for both brother and sister - William wrote poetry whilst Dorothy kept journals. William Wordsworth’s famous poem Daffodils was inspired by a walk the brother and sister took in Ullswater.
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