The Far Eastern Fells was published in May 1957 and was dedicated to:
“The memory of THE MEN WHO BUILT THE STONE WALLS, which have endured the storms of centuries and remain to this day as monuments to enterprise, perseverance and hard work”
Even before The Eastern Fells was published, Wainwright began work on the next book in the series. It was completed by September 1956 but wasn’t published until April 1957 and retailed at 12s 6d. Wainwright’s original £900 debt to Bateman & Hewitson was now paid off, so he could finally profit from sales.
The guide states the engravings were by the Westmorland Gazette. No printer in Kendal had engraving facilities, so this was incorrect. An engraver in Manchester produced them until the 1970s when the Gazette invested in offset litho printing.
Unfortunately, The Far Eastern Fells guide wasn’t a big seller compared to the other guides. For example, The Western Fells was published nearly a decade later and still performed better. Maybe walkers prefer the more central regions of the Lake District. The Lakes’ outskirts are generally overlooked, but if you want to escape the crowds, these are the places to go.
A First Edition is identified by:
- Light grey case with round corners and red blocking
- 12/6 price on the dust jacket
- No impression number
- Book Three listed as – in preparation
After a few impressions, the red lettering on the case was replaced with gold gilt to match the other guides in the series. The early grey cases are stained easily, and clean ones are not easy to find.
After many years, the guides would see their first price increase. In 1965, the Gazette price-clipped their remaining stock of dust jackets and reprinted the new 15/- price in a different position on the jacket.
By the early 1970s, the case corners were squared to save on production costs. Like the other guides in the series, book two would lose its traditional grey case colour, and we would now see a mixture of colour tones. In 1975, with Wainwright’s permission, all case colours were green for the most part. The case material would occasionally vary, depending on availability. The case type helps identify the printing date.
In the late 1970s, The Gazette invested in modern offset Litho printing technology and could now produce negatives for all new titles. By 1980, the gold blocking was removed from the front of the cases, and impression numbers were discontinued five years later. These changes helped decrease production costs—the final guides with impression numbers retailed at £4.65.
From mid-1986 onwards, the guides became a little more difficult to date. The price and case types are the only two methods of dating them. From 1988, Titus Wilson were contracted to print the Wainwright books for the Gazette.
Not long after the passing of Wainwright in 1991, Michael Joseph took over book publishing and launched new guides in April 1992. The first impressions were produced in Kendal by Titus Wilson. All consecutive impression numbers were printed at Clays Ltd, Bungay. During the late 1990s, print quality slowly deteriorated—the reason is unknown. Maybe the printing plates weren’t replaced, or the negatives were damaged.
In January 2003, Michael Joseph announced they would cease printing the guides due to declining sales. After winning the bid to become the new publisher, Cumbrian John Nicoll, Managing Director of Frances Lincoln Publishers, returned the guides to Kendal.
The news sent shockwaves through the walking fraternity. Betty Wainwright said: “It is wonderful that the printing is returning to Kendal. I am sure it is what AW would have wanted.” Titus Wilson used the film of Wainwright’s original distinctive hand-written text and line drawings, which they retained when they initially lost the contract in 1991. Frances Lincoln launched the new titles in April 2003. After a gap of ten years, the books were again back in their hometown of Kendal.
The 50th Anniversary of The Eastern Fells publication was getting closer. In March 2005, new guides were published, including Limited Edition Leather-Bound box sets to mark this occasion. These were produced from new scans of Wainwright’s original artwork.
From left to right:
The Far Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition, Frances Lincoln 2005
The Far Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Leather-Bound, Frances Lincoln 2005
In June 2023, the 50th Anniversary Editions were made available as paperbacks for the first time. They are only available as a box set. See the Wainwright Box Set Collection for details.
The original guides, although works of art, were now outdated. Second Editions would now be produced and would run alongside the originals. Chris Jesty was chosen for this task and spent years revising all twelve guides. The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition was published in June 2005. For some unknown reason, the red lettering was missing from the front of the case on just this title. It returned on a later printing.
The dust jackets were almost identical to the originals, so they were scrapped and replaced with photographed jackets. In January 2009, a cloth-bound ten-guide box set based on the 50th Anniversary Editions was published.
From left to right:
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition (original jacket), Frances Lincoln 2005
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition (photo jacket), Frances Lincoln 2005
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition revised, Frances Lincoln 2007
The Far Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (low gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
The Far Eastern Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (high gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
In 2011, Quarto bought Frances Lincoln for £4.5m. After a few years, the Second Editions became outdated, and new revisions were required. This time, Clive Hutchby was chosen to take on the job, which would take seven years. The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition was published as a flexibound guide in 2015. Eventually, both Readers and Walkers Editions were printed as paperbacks.
From left to right:
The Far Eastern Fells – Readers Edition hardback, Frances Lincoln 2016
The Far Eastern Fells – Readers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2020
The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition flexibound, Frances Lincoln 2015
The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2020