Article by Chris Butterfield.
My journey compiling Wainwright’s entire publishing and printing history is into its fifth year. During this period, I have made many surprising discoveries and acquired many rare artefacts. Part of the collection includes several early Lakeland Pictorial Guides: books one to five. These early impressions were unique in that they had all their publishing details altered. The Westmorland Gazette had covered the previous publisher’s name, Henry Marshall, with their sticker. Why Henry was removed as a publisher so quickly is not completely clear. Hunter Davies first went public with this sad story in Wainwright: The Biography, published in 1995.
When Wainwright completed his first guidebook, The Eastern Fells, in 1955, he wanted to self-publish. Kendal librarian Henry Marshall advised him that acting as both author and publisher would not be wise. As a result of their conversation, Henry subsequently became his publisher. Wainwright preferred Henry’s name to his own, so everything worked out perfectly. Wainwright made a deal with local printers, Bateman and Hewitson Ltd, to print 2000 copies. They were only a small jobbing printer, so the Gazette was contracted to print the books for them.
Incidentally, book one’s engraving was completed in Manchester. This was to be until the Gazette could engrave book two; however, this never happened. Books two to seven state that the engraving was done at the Gazette, which wasn’t correct. To this day, no printer in Kendal has owned engraving equipment.
Book sales increased dramatically as the series progressed. Henry was responsible for all sales and distribution, and his role was a very demanding one. However, things were about to take a turn for the worse for Henry. The Northern Fells guidebook was published in 1962. This would be the final book published by Henry. Suddenly, in 1963, Wainwright transferred all publishing rights to the Gazette without warning.
Wainwright then sold all existing books to the Gazette for £753. They stickered over Henry’s name on all books with their name as publisher. This must have been heart-breaking for Henry when he found out. In Wainwright’s 1966 Fellwanderer: The Story Behind the Guidebooks, he says about Henry’s publishing role: “…subsequently this arrangement collapsed through the weight of numbers.”
Wainwright didn’t inform Henry of his intentions, and he found out after the deal was sealed with the Gazette. To this day, no one knows the real reason why he did this without discussing it with Henry first. Henry wrote to Wainwright when he heard the news. The letter is a sad one. He managed to curtail his anger and remain professional throughout, but you can feel his devastation with every word. Henry passed away in 1964.
Wainwright did not handle the situation correctly, and Henry’s letter confirms this. It wasn’t Wainwright’s finest hour, but I do not believe it was a conscious decision to hurt Henry. He was a complicated character, and despite sometimes appearing impolite, he accomplished many acts of kindness and generosity throughout his life. Perhaps he lacked the same social skills and empathy that come naturally to others.
I believe there is always a trade-off with specially gifted people. I don’t think we would have these fantastic literary works of art we all know and love today if Wainwright wasn’t the enigmatic character we all knew.
Shortly after I acquired the altered guides from 1963, it prompted me to pay my respects to both Wainwright and Henry. It was a glorious summer’s day when my wife Priscilla and I climbed Haystacks to the exact spot where Wainwright’s ashes were scattered all those years ago. We were alone with the feeling of peace and tranquillity by Innominate Tarn. An hour later, we slowly made our way back down to Buttermere. You knew why Wainwright wanted to be here.
Henry Marshall was buried at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Kentmere. I had never been to Kentmere before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Kentmere is a beautiful valley, and we didn’t want to leave. We arrived a few hours later and parked near the church. It was just as quiet and peaceful here as it was on Haystacks. After a few minutes of looking through all the old graves, I eventually found the worn gravestone of Henry, alongside the graves of his family. I spent some time by his grave and spoke a few words.
While collecting Wainwright’s work, it’s always been more than just the raw materials that make a book. It’s the human stories behind each title that resonates with me. The complex history behind the books has encouraged me to recount previously told tales and unearth new ones.Back to top of page