Alfred Wainwright, Hunter Davies, Beatrix Potter
On Friday evening we watched Wainwright : The Man Who Loved The Lakes, a profile of the fell walker Alfred Wainwright.
Afterwards, on the sitting room bookshelves, I spotted A Walk Around the Lakes by Hunter Davies, hardbacked in 1979 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson at £6.95 which now seems dirt cheap for a book with maps as endpapers and 12 pages of illustrations.
Hunter Davies [see photo] was in the TV film about Wainwright but, when I opened the book, my attention was caught by a photograph of Belle Isle, built in 1774 and said to be the only circular house in England.
I was also interested by a reference to The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter being turned down by seven publishers.
As I've probably mentioned before, the Beatrix Potter books were among the delights of my early childhood but somehow I haven't got around to reading any of the biographies of their creator. I was sorry to learn from A Walk Around The Lakes that she had difficult parents.
They disapproved of her first engagement to Norman Warne, the son of her publisher who had changed his mind about her book after she had published it herself. Norman died of leukaemia soon after they became engaged.
Her parents were also against her engagement to William Heelis, a Lakeland solicitor, but eventually, in 1913 when she was 47, she married him.
I'm looking forward to reading The Tale of Mrs.William Heelis: Beatrix Potter by John E Heelis. A second paperback edition was published by Sutton in 2003. The Amazon UK synopsis reads –
"Much has been written about the life of Beatrix Potter, the celebrated children's author. Yet one area of her life that has been relatively undocumented is her relationship with Willie Heelis, to whom she was happily married for nearly 30 years. In this account of the Heelis family, which draws on a wealth of anecdotes from family and friends, the author, Willie's great-nephew John Heelis, casts a welcome perspective on this relationship - as well as tackling such controversial questions as whether Beatrix really did like children. Among the strengths of this edition are first-hand reminiscences of family and Lake District friends of the couple, including extensive extracts from some previously unpublished letters. These with the correspondence between Beatrix and Miss Louie Choyce written in the 1920s and 1930s, add to the information about Willie's and Beatrix's life together in Sawrey."