21st March 2021
Lake District Writers
The spectacular landscape of the Lake District has influenced some of England’s best-known writers. In particular, poets of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, such as William Wordsworth, Thomas de Quincey, John Ruskin and Samuel Coleridge.
Also, many children’s authors have drawn inspiration from our surrounding scenery, such as Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and even the creator of Postman Pat.
Another immensely influential figure is Alfred Wainwright, creator of many walking guides to the area.
For over a century, writers and poets have fallen in love the dramatic beauty and solitude of this stunning corner of the country and its 885 acres of mountains, meadows and fells have moved them in very different ways, leaving a legacy that ranges from the Romantic to the Gothic.
Beatrix Potter lived from 1866 – 1943 and is best known for her beautifully illustrated books featuring Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and friends. She spent many childhood holidays in the Lake District and these influenced her work.
With the profits from her publications, she bought Hill Top farm and other nearby estates, while Brockhole (which you can visit) was the home of her cousin, Edith, who married merchant William Gaddum. You can also meet some of her whimsical wild characters at The World of Beatrix Potter in Windermere.
Born in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1907, Alfred Wainwright first visited the Lake District when he was 23. He later moved to Kendal and 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 and feature 214 fell tops, which are known as ‘Wainwrights’ and many walkers like to try and bag them all. Wainwright died in 1991 and there is a memorial to him in the church at Buttermere. His ashes were also scattered above the village on his favourite mountain, Haystacks.
William Wordsworth is one of the most famous writers inspired by the Lake District, who lived from 1770 – 1850. His ‘Daffodils‘ poem beginning “I wander’d lonely as a cloud” is a quintessentially Cumbrian inspired.
He was born in Cockermouth, just north of the National Park and went to school in Hawkshead. After attending Cambridge University and then living in Dorset, Wordsworth moved back to the Lakes to Dove Cottage in Grasmere in 1799 and then Rydal Mount in 1813.
Wordsworth’s ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’ published in 1820 sparked off the first beginnings of mass tourism to the area.
John Ruskin was a renowned Victorian poet, artist and philosopher of society and conservation, who lived from 1819 – 1900. Born in London, Ruskin was profoundly influenced by his childhood experience of the Lake District and his writings on architecture and art influenced Pre-Raphaelites artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. In 1871, he bought Brantwood near Coniston and retired there in 1884. He is buried in Coniston’s churchyard.
Born in Leeds in 1884, Arthur Ransome learned to sail on Coniston and went to school in Windermere. He wrote a series of 12 Swallows and Amazons books, mostly set in the Lake District, with his stories following the adventures of the Walker and Blackett children camping on islands, mining for gold, fighting fell fires and conquering mountains. Wild Cat Island is thought to be Peel Island in Coniston Water and Kanchenjunga is thought to be The Old Man of Coniston.
Born in 1933, John Cunliffe wrote the world-famous Postman Pat stories. Who’s many adventures were turned into a TV series and shown in more than 50 countries. Cunliffe lived in Kendal for six years and much of his inspiration came from the local Cumbrian countryside. Greendale was inspired by Longsleddale and the Greendale post office was inspired by Beast Banks post office, in Kendal. Now closed, the building is marked with a plaque.
If you’re planning to explore the Lake District, why not browse our collection of Cumbrian cottages.