Daffodils by Ullswater copyright Val Corbett

Famous writers

The spectacular landscape of the Lake District has been a huge influence on some of England's best-known writers. In particular the Romantic poets of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey and John Ruskin were hugely affected by their surroundings.

Also many children's authors have drawn inspiration from the landscape, such as Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and even the creator of Postman Pat.

Another hugely influential writer on the Lake District is Alfred Wainwright, author of many walking guides to the area.

Beatrix Potter

The famous children's author Beatrix Potter lived from 1866 til 1943. She 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 hill farms and estates in the Lake District. Brockhole was the home of Beatrix's cousin Edith who married merchant William Gaddum. Beatrix used to write to her young second cousins Jim and Molly at Brockhole, which you can visit. You can also see Peter Rabbit and her other famous animal characters at The World of Beatrix Potter in Windermere.

She became an expert Herdwick sheep breeder and the first female president-designate of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders' Association. When she died in 1943 she left 14 farms, sheep and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust.

Alfred Wainwright

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1907, Alfred Wainwright first visited the Lake District when he was 23 and fell in love with the area. 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. They feature 214 fell tops, which are known as 'Wainwrights' and many walkers like to try and bag them all! Many of our guided walks take you over Wainwright summits.

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.

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth is one of Britain's most famous poets, who lived from 1770 til 1850. His 'Daffodils' poem beginning “I wander’d lonely as a cloud” is the quintessential Lake District poem.

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 Lake District 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

John Ruskin was a renowned Victorian poet, artist and philosopher about society and conservation, who lived from 1819 til 1900.

Born in London, Ruskin was profoundly affected by his childhood experiences of the Lake District. His writings on architecture and art influenced Pre-Raphaelites artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

In the 1850s he became more interested in politics. He passionately believed in conservation, the importance of planning, smokeless zones, free schools and green belts and campaigned for their importance. In 1871 Ruskin bought Brantwood near Coniston and retired there in 1884. He is buried in Coniston’s churchyard.

Arthur Ransome

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. The stories follow 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.

He 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. He died in 1967.

The Ransomes lived in the Winster valley and Haverthwaite. Both Arthur and Eugenia are buried in Rusland churchyard.

John Cunliffe

Born in 1933, John Cunliffe wrote the world-famous Postman Pat stories. Postman Pat’s many adventures were turned into a TV series and shown in more than 50 countries. 

John 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 plague.

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Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

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