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Wainwright: The Biography

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  43 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Alfred Wainwright's unique hand-drawn and hand-written Pictorial Guides to the Lake District have been an inspiration to walkers for over forty years. Yet despite many bestselling books and three television series, Wainwright remained an intensely private person.

With full access to Alfred Wainwright's private letters and unpublished material, Hunter Davies reveals a man m
Paperback, 356 pages
Published January 4th 2007 by Orion (first published October 16th 1995)
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Sep 01, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable, sympathetic but I think not rose-tinted biography of the doyen of writing (and of course illustrating) on Lakeland fell walking. Wainwright comes across as someone who inspired loyalty sometimes richly deserved and sometimes frankly not and he seems to present a real puzzle, unless you put it down to capriciousness and occasional bad judgment.

From unhappy although unexceptional beginnings in poverty, Wainwright became a local authority accountant first in his hometown Blac
Jun 29, 2016 aNorthernSoul rated it it was amazing
Somewhat of a niche interest title, Wainwright: The Biography is the tale of how a Blackburn local government accountant went on to map The Lake District, and in so doing help promote fell walking throughout The Lakes to this very day. It's a very well-written work, but I also like how Davies allows Wainwright's own writing the space so as to be able breathe, and as such the reader is able to ascertain the famous walker's own views of the land, in addition to his (somewhat lugubrious and tacitur ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Mac.Hawk rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book but did it really tell me anything I didn't already know? Well actually yes. It's common knowledge he was a cranky man, with a variety of views that would be deemed hopelessly politically incorrect nowadays, the surprise is that he seems to have held these views throughout his life and not just in his elder years.

Another surprise was the amount of money he gave to animal charity, particularly since he seemed to have no great fondness for them in his private life.

I think the bo
Aug 28, 2013 AJW rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this biography of a cranky, right-wing, obsessive fellwalker who expressed his devotion to the hills in a series of beautifully drawn and handwritten books. Wainwright was intensely private (hiding his first name Alfred behind the initial A, for example) so Hunter Davies does well in shining a torch into his hidden personal life. By the end of this book, I felt I had got to know A.Wainwright well and saw that he definitely had feet of clay - and I'm not talking about the mud on his hik ...more
Kelly Swann
Nov 04, 2012 Kelly Swann rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This is another book that took me a long time to read. I started it last summer and gradually got about 2 thirds through. I picked it up in the week and after a concerted effort got right into the story of this enigmatic man. He is without question a one off - an eccentric. His character at once cold, withdrawn and obsessive is also wry, creative and passionate. He was unimpressed by wealth, grandeur and fame, he loved the lakes, blackburn rovers and fish and chips. This is a well written book w ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Darren rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, british, travel
Wainwright's books are a joy to me. When using them as a guide i always feel like i had a jocular companion, explaining and helping me find my way round the fells. It was a surprise to me to learn that many found him gruff and unsociable. This book concentrates on the man behind the myth. Its not always pleasant reading, there are dark times, ladles of unhappiness but it is full of surprise and joy. Its not just a biography of Wainwright it is also a social commentary on a way of living that has ...more
John Grinstead
Jul 26, 2011 John Grinstead rated it it was amazing
A fasinating account of a Northern icon. Hunter Davies dismantles the aura around the enigmatic Wainwright revealing much of his fragility, insecurity and defensive posturing. Falling into an unhappy marriage - for which he seems to blame his wife! - he escapes to the Lakes, to Kendal and a new love. Victim or villian, you choose but the account by which he researches, compiles and eventually comes to publish his guide books is at once fascinating and revealing of the character of the man.
Aug 02, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it
A must-read for anyone who, like me, adores Wainwright's pictorial guides and is fascinated to learn more of the enigma behind them. It's a wonderfully written biography - being sympathetic but honest and objective.
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Thompson Edward Hunter Davies, formerly an editor for the Sunday Times of London, is the author of numerous books, including The Glory Game. He lives in London.
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