Literary Lakeland

7 Authors inspired by the Lake District 

Inspiring authors and captivating landscapes 

Literary Gems of The Lake District – Inspiring authors and captivating landscapes.

From the romantic poetry of William Wordsworth to the animal antics of Beatrix Potter’s characters to the children’s adventures of Arthur Ransome, the rich and varied landscape of the Lake District has provided endless inspiration for authors.

And it’s still doing so today, with farmer James Rebanks enjoying huge success with his books on farming life, and crime writer Martin Edwards exploring the darker, grittier underbelly of life in Cumbria.

Here’s our round-up of a few of our favourite writers to inspire you to visit the beautiful Lake District.

1. William Wordsworth 

You can’t write about the Lake District without mentioning William Wordsworth – and, of course, his most famous poem, Daffodils.

Born in Cockermouth in 1770, he was one of the Lake Poets, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. All three lived and worked in the Lake District – and you can visit several of Wordsworth’s former homes, including;

Want to wander lonely as a cloud in Grasmere? Check out our holiday cottages in the area.

2. Alfred Wainwright

Another name synonymous with life in the Lake District is Alfred Wainwright. His beautifully illustrated, seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells is the definitive guide to 214 Lakeland fells and has been consistently in print since the first one was published in 1955 – no serious fell walker should be without them.

Although he was born in Blackburn, he later settled in Kendal, working as the borough treasurer for many years.

He was also a familiar figure on TV in the 1980s – usually puffing on his pipe, striding the fells he loved.

Ready to climb a Wainwright or two? Ambleside, Keswick, and Windermere offer excellent bases to get bagging from.

3. Beatrix Potter 

Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jeremy Fisher, Benjamin Bunny, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail… all these much-loved characters flowed from the imagination and the pen of Beatrix Potter.

Inspired by childhood holidays in the Lake District, after the success of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix moved from London to Hill Top in Near Sawrey and created many of her most famous characters there.

Buying up farms and estates to help preserve the Lake District landscape she loved (bequeathing them to the National Trust on her death), she also became an expert sheep breeder and is recognised for saving the Herdwick breed from dying out.

Follow in Beatrix’s footsteps with a stay in one of our holiday cottages in Hawkshead, Ambleside, Windermere, or Coniston & Langdale.

4. Arthur Ransome 

Sailing, camping, pirates, island adventures – the Swallows and Amazons children’s school-holiday adventures by Arthur Ransome are still read and loved to this day.

Over twelve books, which follow the exploits of the Walker and Blackett families’ children, he creates a charming world of friendship, imagination and play, and not forgetting lashings of ginger beer and lemonade (grog).

Born in Leeds in 1884, Ransome was a regular visitor to the Lake District and later settled there, living in the Winster Valley and Haverthwaite.

Want to sail to Wild Cat Island? Stay in one of our holiday cottages in Coniston.

5. Sarah Hall  

Cumbrian-born Sarah was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2004 for her novel The Electric Michaelangelo, but it was her first book, Haweswater, that made her name. Telling the tragic story of a community of Cumbrian hill farmers whose lives and livelihoods are ruined by the building of Haweswater Reservoir, which submerges their village, Mardale, it won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best debut novel. 

Cumbria looms large throughout many of Sarah’s books, be it the fictional estate of Annerdale from the Wolf Border, or her future-set dystopian fable The Carhullan Army, which reimagines Penrith as Rith and makes darkly evocative use of the moors and fells.

Are you a budding author? Escape to some of our smaller towns and villages to escape distractions and explore the area for inspiration.

6. James Rebanks 

Cumbrian sheep farmer, James Rebanks, became an unlikely celebrity when his memoir and first book, The Shepherd’s Life, became a bestseller in 2015.

Tweeting as @herdyshepherd, he now has almost 160,000 followers, who follow his tales of life as a Lake District farmer with avid interest.

Following up with English Pastoral, an elegantly written book about family, landscape, and how the old farming ways can still inform the new. He still farms and writes in Matterdale, where his family have lived for over 600 years.

If you’ve been inspired by James’ books, get amongst the sheep-dotted fields in the valley Troutbeck where our holiday cottages will have you in the heart of some typically scenic Lakeland farmland.

7. Martin Edwards 

Over the course of eight (and counting) books featuring Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett and Historian Daniel Kind, Martin EdwardsLake District Mysteries series shows a darker side of Cumbrian life – ruthless murderers, shocking secrets, mysterious disappearances – all making great use of Lake District town and country locations, with well-drawn characters and dramatically described scenery.

It’d be criminal not to investigate for yourself. Check out our Cumbrian holiday cottages for rent.

Find your prefect Lakeland reading or writing nook

Discover more of the Lake District

With weekly articles highlighting the very best of the Lake District, there’s always something to get you inspired for your next trip!

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