Sunday, 18 November 2012

Alfred Wainwright

This week the art classes reproduced some of Alfred Wainwrights drawings:
Alfred Wainwright was born in Blackburn, Lancashire into a poor family, mostly because of his stonemason father's alcoholism. Wainwright did very well at school (first in nearly every subject) he left school at the age of 13. While most of his classmates were obliged to find employment in the local mills, Wainwright started work as an office boy in Blackburn Borough Engineer's Department. He spent several years studying at night school, gaining qualifications in accountant.  As a child Wainwright walked a great deal, up to 20 miles at a time; he showed a great interest in drawing and cartography, producing his own maps of England and his local area.
In 1930, at the age of 23, Wainwright saved up for a week's walking holiday in the Lake District with his cousin Eric Beardsall. They arrived in Windermere and climbed the nearby Orrest Head, where Wainwright saw his first view of the Lakeland fells. This moment marked the start of what he later described as his love affair with the Lake District.
In 1931 he married his first wife, Ruth Holden, a mill worker, with whom he had a son Peter. In 1941 Wainwright moved closer to the fells when he took a job (and a pay cut) at the Borough Treasurer's office in Kendal, Westmorland. He lived and worked in the town for the rest of his life, serving as Borough Treasurer from 1948 until he retired in 1967. His first marriage ended when Ruth left three weeks before he retired and they divorced. In 1970 he married Betty McNally (1922–2008), a divorcee, who became his walking companion and who carried his ashes to Innominate Tarn at the top of Haystacks. 
Falling Foss illustration fromWainwrights Coast to Coast Book
 Wainwright started work on the first page of his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells on 9 November 1952. He planned the precise scope and content of the seven volumes and worked conscientiously and meticulously on the series for the next 13 years at an average rate of one page per evening.
He initially planned the series for his own interest rather than for publication. When he published his first book it was privately, as he could not face the prospect of finding a publisher.
Wainwright died in 1991 of a heart attack. According to his biographer Hunter Davies, he failed to leave anything to his son Peter, the product of his first, unhappy marriage.
Wainwright's Pictorial Guides have been in continuous publication since they were written and have sold more than two million copies.  Although a number of more up-to-date guides are on the market, his books remain among the most popular for their depth, detail and unique style.

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