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articles > 2003

Wainwright finds new home
press release by Frances Lincoln

Frances Lincoln Publishers have successfully fought off over thirty other publishers to acquire the rights to publish the complete works of A. Wainwright.

  • New publisher with strong local connections
  • Printing returned to Kendal
  • Price reduced
  • Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells available again by Easter

John Nicoll, managing director of Frances Lincoln, said: "We are really thrilled to be publishing these books which I have known all my life. As a boy who was born and brought up at the foot of Kentmere in the heart of the Lake District I remember treasuring each new volume as it was published. Now I am honoured to be the publisher of these extraordinary books and look forward to introducing them to a whole new generation.”

Jenny Dereham, former Wainwright editor at Michael Joseph said: "I'm absolutely confident this is the right home for the books and am very pleased with the outcome.”

On Thursday 17th April 2003, Frances Lincoln Publishers will publish the seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells compiled by A. Wainwright between 1952 and 1966 at the new reduced price of £11.99.

These are:
Book One: The Eastern Fells  ISBN:   0711222274   Price: £11.99
Book Two: The Far Eastern Fells  ISBN:  0711222282   Price:  £11.99
Book Three: The Central Fells   ISBN:   0711222290  Price: £11.99
Book Four: The Southern Fells  ISBN:   0711222304  Price:£11.99
Book Five: The Northern Fells  ISBN:   0711222312  Price: £11.99
Book Six: The North Western Fells  ISBN: 0711222320 Price: £11.99
Book Seven: The Western Fells  ISBN:  0711222339 Price: £11.99

They will also be publishing
THE OUTLYING FELLS OF LAKELAND (ISBN: 0711222347 Price: £11.99) on the same date. All of these eight books are currently out of print but they will be available again by Easter.

Importantly, Frances Lincoln will be bringing the printing of the Pictorial Guides back to Kendal. During the life of the Pictorial Guides with Michael Joseph Ltd, the printing was moved away from the local printer, but Frances Lincoln, in accordance with Wainwright's original wish, will now be returning the business to Titus Wilson in Kendal.

Wainwright was born into poverty in the Lancashire town of Blackburn in 1907. The son of a stonemason, he left school when he was 13. At the age of 23 he went on holiday to the Lake District. It was love at first sight. In his book Fellwanderer Wainwright described his first visit there.

" I was utterly enslaved by all I saw," he said. "Here were no huge factories, but mountains; no stagnant canals, but sparkling crystal-clear rivers; no cinder paths, but beckoning tracks that clamber through bracken and heather to the silent fastnesses of the hills. That week changed my life."

He qualified as an accountant and moved to Kendal in 1941, rising to become Borough Treasurer seven years later. He spent every spare moment walking the fells that he loved so deeply. The first Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells was published in 1955 and in his introduction he wrote: 'This book is one man's way of expressing his devotion to Lakeland's friendly hills. It was conceived, and is born, after many years of inarticulate worshipping at their shrines. It is, in very truth, a love-letter.'

He spent 13 years compiling the seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, tramping the fells in all weathers at weekends, with raincoat, map and camera. Most of his fine, individual drawings were taken from his photographs. The Pictorial Guides were and are still distinctive. Fearing that printers would misspell words, his handwritten work was reproduced directly on to the page; the Westmorland Gazette of Kendal published them all.

Wainwright also devised, during 1970-1, the Coast-to-Coast Walk which starts at St Bees Head on the Cumbrian coast and ends at Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea. This is perhaps the most popular of all long-distance walks.

Numerous sketchbooks and volumes of drawings followed but in 1984 his writing took a dramatic turn. He agreed to write a book for the London publishers, Michael Joseph, which was illustrated with photographs by Derry Brabbs. Fellwalking with Wainwright became a bestseller overnight and was followed by a further seven illustrated books. Two of the books, Wainwright in Scotland and Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast Walk were accompanied by BBC2 television programmes and suddenly the reclusive walker became a virtual 'national treasure'.

Eric Robson, who appeared on the television programmes with Wainwright and is now chairman of the Wainwright Society as well as presenter of BBC Radio Four's Gardener's Question Time, says: "He communicated better than any guide book writer before or since the essence of the Lakeland landscape, the visceral attachment of man to place, the spiritual power of weathered rock and angry sky. He was priest and poet in his own blunt way.” 

In June, Frances Lincoln will also be publishing:
A COAST TO COAST WALK     ISBN:0711222363   Price: £11.99
WALKS IN LIMESTONE COUNTRY   ISBN: 0711222371  Price: £9.99
WALKS ON THE HOWGILL FELLS: ISBN: 071122238X  Price: £10.99

And later this year will come:
MEMOIRS OF A FELLWANDERER    ISBN: 0711222398  Price: £12.99 pb

Then in Spring 2004:
PENNINE WAY COMPANION    ISBN: 0711222355  Price: £11.99

Next year will also see the reissue of some of his sketchbooks of drawings, and other volumes which have been out of print for many years.

More information can be found on the website