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Poetry & Art

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Young People


Lakeland in the 1830s:

based on the journal of a gentleman traveller, Isaac Simpson



Winner of the 2010 Lakeland Book of the Year award Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition

About this book:

  • ISBN: 9781904524625 (hardback)

  • Price £17.50 + postage

  • ISBN: 9781904524618 (paperback)

  • Price £14.00 + postage

  • Published 2009

  • 164 pages

  • Illustrated with 114 colour and black and white drawings, photographs and maps


From the faded ink of the Lake District journal of a pre-Victorian gentleman traveller Isaac Simpson, direct descendant Wendy Stuart has brought to life a fascinating and charming account of the changing Lakes of the 1830s.
What started as a labour of love transcribing her great-great grandfather's letters has turned into not only a wonderful social history, but also a timeless evocation of the joy of discovering the Lake District's beauty for the first time.
Written in fine Georgian prose which endears rather than grates, it is beautifully illustrated with dozens of contemporary drawings and photographs and Wendy's Stuart's own watercolours. Lakeland in the 1830s is a real gem of a book which is surely destined to become a Lakeland classic.
Richard Eccles, editor, Cumbria Life magazine

I sat up half the night to finish this book! It is such an enjoyable read.
Nowadays when we plan a short holiday we can look at photos, explore the views in colourful brochures or easily source on-line, all of which gives us an accurate preview of our destination and what to expect there. But Isaac Simpson and his friends were embarking on a journey through Westmorland and into Cumberland which was a good distance from home for them and about which they knew very little. Isaac was a very successful businessman from Preston but this was to be the first time he had travelled beyond his own county of Lancashire. He writes this journal for his son Edmond.
Isaac writes in a good clear, crisp English and we follow his journey from Preston to Keswick looking through his nineteenth-century eyes uninformed by twenty-first century hype and wall-to-wall advertising. The freshness of his experiences is palpable.
Wendy M Stuart found her great-great-grandfather's original handwritten manuscript and has painstakingly deciphered and rewritten the text. Later she followed his route by car to see the places he saw and probably to re-read his impressions and observations in situ.
Isaac wasn't one of the idle rich who had inherited his wealth without effort and wished to mimic the 'grand tours' which were becoming popular then. His money had been hard-earned and this was really a visit to the Kendal 'cotton' mills which he had decided to combine with a short holiday.
His lively intelligence and keen artistic eye reveal to the reader the small things which charmed him as well as his awe-struck responses to the magnificence of the higher fells and lakes. We see the sights and people he saw at the pace of a horse and trap which is denied to those speeding by in a purring motor on the busy roads of today.
Like Wendy Stuart herself he was an accomplished artist and his sketches alongside her lovely paintings add so much to his story. It's remarkable how a talent such as theirs can repeat itself down through a family...
The Keswick Reminder, March 2009.

About the Author:

After attending St. Paul's Girls' School in London, then studying Art there, Wendy Stuart continued life's adventure in Yorkshire, then Cumberland in the farming community where she had four sons. Moving to Lancashire some years later, she went into teaching, mainly Art and Design.
The author of the journal, Isaac Simpson from Preston, was Wendy's great-great-grandfather. She was fascinated by the journal which had been kept safe by her family for nearly two hundred years. Retiring early from teaching, Wendy taught painting to adults and spent much more time painting for herself and began to put together this book.
Wendy's hobbies include sailing, for many years on her own boat, brass band playing, and taking part in fun sports such as abseiling, learning to fly, parachuting, caving and racing. She has spent a great deal of time exploring the Lake District, when not sailing on the Lake. Many of the paintings in this book are her own work.


Wendy Stuart painstakingly deciphered her great-great-grandfather's journals... to write her own book and has finally completed it – after 25 years! The book tells the story of Isaac Simpson, a famous Chorley clock-maker, who took a trip to the Lake District almost 200 years ago.
Wendy followed the exact same route that her ancestor took in a horse and trap in 1831, and recounts talkes of his adventure...
Wendy, who is an avid painter and taught at Worden High School in Leyland, illustrated the book herself with paintings and sketches taken from the idyllis scenery.
Chorley Guardian, November 2009.

To see more about Wendy and her work see: http://www.wendymstuart.moonfruit.com


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