A Lakeland Sketchbook

Wainwright retired from his role as Borough Treasurer of Kendal in 1967. He could now focus more on his passions, walking and writing books. In some personal notes in conclusion at the rear of Wainwright’s final Lakeland guidebook, The Western Fells, he considers a possible new series of books highlighting the best of Lakeland in pictures.

The first book of five was published two years later, in September 1969, titled; A Lakeland Sketchbook. The book features a collection of 80 pen and ink drawings of Lakeland scenes. It is presumed all the drawings were produced during that period. However, some later drawings were unpublished creations from the 1940s. I have acquired four original drawings from 1944 and one featured in A Fifth Lakeland Sketchbook.

Cumbria magazine October 1969

We have evidence that Wainwright started producing drawings for the first Lakeland Sketchbook years earlier. Some of these drawings were featured in Cumbria in May 1966.

Wainwright used artistic licence in many of his drawings. For example, he may add a tree branch to fill a blank space in a scene. Some of the original drawings contain errors that have been corrected using Tipex. Sometimes he used it to fix stains caused by tobacco falling from his pipe.

First Edition is identified by:

  1. Green cloth case with gold blocking
  2. 18/- price on the dust jacket
  3. Walks in Limestone Country listed as – In preparation
In preparation helps identify a First Edition
A Lakeland Sketchbook
A green clothbound case on its own does not necessarily identify a First Edition
A Lakeland Sketchbook
Beware! A second impression is a thinner book priced £1.05p 21/-

The original drawings for this title were donated to the Kendal Branch of the ‘Save The Children Fund’ and exhibited at Abbot Hall, Kendal, in early December. All first editions of A Lakeland Sketchbook came with a leaflet, allowing the owner to purchase an original sketch from this title. The drawings sold out within a few days of publication. There were many disappointed people, as over 1,000 letters and enquiries for drawings were received.

Original sketchbook drawing offer
Did you reserve a drawing?

Throughout the 1970s, sketchbook cases were in many different colours and styles. Some instances were bright yellow, and others were various shades of green. Presented here is a mustard yellow case from 1972. During this period, they were priced at £1.40, the same as the guides. The gold blocking was removed from the front of the books around 1980.

A Lakeland Sketchbook
A later print from 1972
The Lesser Fells of Lakeland was an early working title of The Outlying Fells of Lakeland
An original Westmorland Gazette spine gold blocking
The original Dove Crag drawing was also featured in The Westmorland Gazette’s 1987 Lakeland calendar

In 2004 Frances Lincoln produced a box set containing all five sketchbooks. It was the first time they had been in print since 1991. The Frances Lincoln sketchbooks didn’t sell as well as hoped, and these books can still be found individually in many Cumbrian bookshops. Sadly, the box sets are harder to come by.

A Lakeland Sketchbook
An early 1980s print and Frances Lincoln’s 2004 publication

In 1991, just before the Gazette ceased publication of the Wainwright books, the Henry Roberts bookshop chain owner in Cumbria purchased much of their stock. The rest went to the new publisher, Michael Joseph, who stickered their name on the back of the Gazette‘s sketchbooks. Henry Roberts of Ambleside are still selling their original sketchbook stock acquired three decades ago.

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