Archive centreKendal
TitleAlfred Wainwright
DescriptionThe Alfred Wainwright Archive is a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the life and work of the celebrated guide book author and his influence on the development of outdoor tourism in the Lake District.
Charting Wainwright's journey from humble beginnings in Blackburn to popular author and acknowledged expert on the Lakeland Fells, the archive reveals the working methods he adopted to create his unique guide books. It includes book manuscripts and working papers for the creation of A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells and other works, field notebooks and annotated Ordnance Survey maps, drawings including book illustrations as well as childhood sketches and cartoons, photographs, and personal papers including correspondence and fan mail. Also included are papers relating to his 1980s Television Walks series with Eric Robson and papers regarding the animal rescue centre that he and his second wife Betty established at Grayrigg near Kendal.

Book manuscripts
Manuscripts of Wainwright's published works, including the original illustrations for A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells Books One to Seven (1955-1966), Pennine Way Companion (1968), Walks in Limestone Country (1970), Walks on the Howgill Fells (1972), A Coast to Coast Walk (1973) and The Outlying Fells of Lakeland (1974). Other manuscripts include Westmorland Heritage (published 1975), Kendal in the Nineteenth Century (published 1977), and the manuscripts but not the landscape illustrations for Lakeland Sketchbooks volumes 1-5, Lakeland Mountain Drawings volumes 1-5, Scottish Mountain Drawings volumes 1, 4, 5 and 6, and the Dales, Furness, Lune, Ribble, Wyre and Eden Sketchbooks. There is also material relating to the large format photographically illustrated books published by Michael Joseph in the 1980s-1990s.
Other items of particular interest include illustrated manuscripts for two small booklets, Walks from Ratty (1978) and Old Roads of Eastern Lakeland (1985), and manuscript drafts and a photograph album of A Pennine Journey, Wainwright's account of a two week walking tour of the Pennines between Settle and Hadrian's Wall in 1938 which was eventually published in 1986.
The archive also holds material relating to books published posthumously or derived from Wainwright's works, and biographical works including Hunter Davies' biography of Wainwright which was published in 1995.

The Archive boasts two important notebooks used in planning and creating A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.

Although the majority of the original drawings for the published sketchbooks were sold by Wainwright in order to raise money for animal rescue charities, there are several examples of his landscape ink drawings in the Archive, including a view of Blea Tarn, Langdale, looking across to the Langdale Pikes which is thought to be one of his earliest Lake District landscape drawings dating from 1942. There are also a few alternative drawings for the published sketchbook illustrations, and one or two unfinished sketches. In addition, there are drawings and cartoons, and several hand drawn maps, drawn when he was a child.
Drawings held in the Archive reveal some interesting aspects of Wainwright's working methods. He often re-used drawings in more than one publication, either re-using the whole picture or a small part of the whole. Many incomplete parts of drawings survive where Wainwright has cut out the sections he required for a particular purpose.

Personal papers
Including examples of Wainwright's school work and school reports, papers concerning his accountancy qualification, offers of Honorary Degrees from various universities, and his MBE.

Annotated maps
Ordnance Survey and other maps used by Wainwright in researching his guides. The maps are annotated by Wainwright and, in the case of the Pennine Way route maps, by others, giving details of the terrain, the routes, features of interest, and sometimes the date he visited. Wainwright used his own symbols to record the route and to enhance the detail of landscape features - for example crags and walls were often drawn in greater detail, and if the scale of the original map was too small to record sufficient detail, he would draw his own larger version in the margin of the map. Areas covered include parts of the Lake District and Scotland, and the routes of the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast Walk.

Photographic material
Apart from a few small rough sketches in his notebooks or in the margins of Ordnance Survey maps, Wainwright did all his landscape drawings from photographs. In the Archive are several hundred photographic prints (mostly black and white) taken by Wainwright and also printed postcards collected by him, many of which were used to produce drawings for his books. The prints feature landscape views of the Lake District and Cumbria, other areas of northern England including Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Peak District, and Scotland. There are also family photographs, and colour slides mostly of Lake District and Scottish landscape views.

This includes professional correspondence and reviews relating to first publication of The Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells Book One, as well as material relating to the publication of later books including an extensive series of correspondence from the publishers Michael Joseph . There are requests for interviews and for permission to publish Wainwright works, letters from readers pointing out factual errors and inaccuracies in the books or taking issue with his opinions, correspondence from landowners regarding disputed rights of way, an extensive run of fan mail from avid readers, letters from other authors including Richard Adams and Molly Lefebure, and more general correspondence arising from Wainwright's publishing activities. In addition there is a small amount of personal correspondence.

Animal welfare charities: Wainwright Animal Trust and Animal Rescue Cumbria
Wainwright and his second wife Betty were supporters of Animal Rescue Cumbria. Wainwright became Chairman in 1974 and donated the royalties from his books to the charity to fund the animal shelter Kapellan at Grayrigg near Kendal. The Wainwright Animal Trust was set up by Wainwright in 1986 to make grants to various animal welfare charities. On its winding up in 1994, its funds were transferred to Animal Rescue Cumbria. The Archive includes correspondence, financial and legal papers for both of these organisations, as well as correspondence with the RSPCA and other animal welfare charities.
Extent0.818 m3 (26.5 linear feet)
Access conditionsPlease note that prior notice of at least one week is required to view these records. Please contact Kendal Archive Centre to arrange access.
ContextAlfred Wainwright was born and raised in Audley Range, Blackburn, Lancashire. He attended the local Board school, Accrington Road Elementary School, and then from 1919 the Higher Elementary School in Blakey Moor (located in the centre of Blackburn, not far from the Town Hall). He left school before his matriculation, however, securing a job as a clerk at Blackburn Town Hall in October 1920, and 3 years later transferred to the Borough Treasurer's Department. He studied for the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants exams, passing the Intermediate Examination in 1931 and qualifying as an Associate of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants in 1936. He and his first wife Ruth Holden married on 24 Dec 1931 at Furthergate Congregational Church, Blackburn. Wainwright moved to Kendal in 1941, with his first wife and their son Peter, to take up a job as accountancy assistant in Kendal Borough Treasurer's office, rising to become Kendal Borough Treasurer in 1948. Alfred Wainwright and his first wife divorced in 1968, and in 1970 Wainright married his second wife Betty McNally, whom he had befriended in 1965.

Wainwright first visited the Lake District in 1930 on a Whitsun walking holiday with his cousin Eric Beardsall, arriving in Kendal by bus from Blackburn, and proceeding first to the viewpoint on Orrest Head, Windermere. Later he recalled how 'Those few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life' (Ex-Fellwanderer, published 1987). After moving to Kendal in 1941 he devoted much of his time to walking and drawing, and in 1952 he embarked on his 13-year plan to create detailed illustrated walking guides covering the whole of the Lake District. A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells Book One was published in 1955 and was followed by six further volumes. Wainwright went on to create guides to the Pennine Way, the Coast to Coast walk, Limestone Country, the Howgill Fells, and published sketchbooks of landscape views of the Lake District and areas of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales. In the 1980s he worked with Michael Joseph publishers on several larger format books illustrated with photographs by Derry Brabbs, and he appeared in BBC television series presented by Eric Robson including Wainwright in Lakeland and Wainwright in Scotland. He published 59 books in all, most of which are represented in the Wainwright Archive.
Catalogue levelFonds
Subject termsRambling
Guide book
Landscape and topography
Topographical drawing
Animal welfare
Caricatures and cartoons
Walking (sport)

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CodePerson/Corporate namesDates
NA1298Wainwright; Alfred (1907-1991); author1907-1991
CodePlace names
PAX293The Lake District National Park/Cumbria
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