Famous Cumbrians: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

A leading figure in the Romantic movement, Wordsworth wrote poetry inspired by strong emotion, but ‘remembered in tranquillity’. Born in Cockermouth and educatedWilliam Wordsworth at 28 by William Shuter 1798 Copyright expired in Penrith and Hawkshead, Wordsworth lived in France as a young man immediately before the French Revolution, developing radical ideas and a mistress and child. Wordsworth returned to the Lake District in 1799 to live in Dove Cottage (open to the public) in Grasmere, and I believe received wisdom amongst poetry-philes is that he became increasingly conservative, which probably explains how this one-time radical could become Poet Laureate. Continue reading

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Famous Cumbrians: Norman Nicholson (1914-1987)

Where the River Duddon meets the sea, under the towering form of Black Combe, lies the former mining town of Millom and life-long home to the poet, Norman Nicholson. Nicholson’s Cumbrian connection defined both his reputation and his work, with many of his poems paying tribute to the town, the Duddon Valley, and local sights such as Scafell Pike, Whitehaven, Patterdale, stone circles and the western coast. His words contrast vividly the reality of the declining mining town and the timeless grandeur of the natural Lake District environment. Continue reading

Famous Cumbrians: Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)

Beatrix Potter was in many ways the ultimate Cumbrian, and yet she was born in London. Unmarried until her 40s, Beatrix struggled initially to make an independent living. She finally self-published 250 copies of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in 1901; these were noticed by the publisher, Frederick Warne, and by the end of the following year, they had printed no less than 28,000 copies. Beatrix went on to write another 22 books, and used the proceeds to buy Hill Top Farm, near Hawkshead. Continue reading