A Lakeland Sketchbook

Share this on your social networks

Wainwright retired from his role as Borough Treasurer of Kendal in 1967. He could now focus more time 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 which would highlight the very best of Lakeland in pictures.

The first book of five was published two years later in October 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 time period. However, some of the drawings published later in the series were previously unpublished creations from the 1940s. I have been fortunate to acquire four original drawings from 1944, and one features in a later sketchbook.

Cumbria magazine October 1969.

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

Wainwright used artistic licence on 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 with the use of 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 green clothbound case on its own does not necessarily identify a First Edition.
Beware! A second impression is a thinner book and priced £1.05p 21/-.

All first editions came with a leaflet, giving the owner an opportunity to purchase an original sketch from this title. They had until the 14th December of 1969 to reserve one. All proceeds from the sales went to the ‘Save The Children Fund’.

Original sketchbook drawing offer.
Did you reserve a drawing?

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

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

In 2004 Frances Lincoln produced a box set containing all five sketchbooks. This was the first time they had been printed 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.

An early 1980s print and Frances Lincoln’s 2004 publication.

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

Back to top of page


  • Rob Challoner says:

    Another great article Chris, the sketchbooks are great. May pay a visit to the Ambleside book shop to check it out.
    All the best Rob.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.