But there are many modern-day authors who have been just as inspired by the landscape of the Lake District too and today and we’re sharing some gems to add to your own reading list.
We’re starting close to home! Ian Hall is no other than Sally’s dad – you may know him if you follow our Facebook live videos because of his wonderful background guitar strumming! As well as musician, Ian has many strings to his bow including farmer, priest, campsite owner and, of course, author. His memoir Fisherground: Living the Dream, is an honest portrayal of life in one of the quietest valleys of Cumbria: Eskdale. Another of his novels - this one fictional but based on fact - looks at the lives of people who have lived at Thorneythwaite Farm in Borrowdale.
Ian isn’t the only author in the family, either! Sally’s sister, Catherine, was born in Eskdale and now lives in London. Starting work in documentary film production, her first novel was Days of Grace, a suspenseful story about wartime friendship and a secret kept for decades. The Proof of Love followed her successful debut and is set in the Lake District itself, where a Cambridge mathematician builds a genuine friendship with scruffy 10-year-old Alice. Her third novel is The Repercussions and we are now eagerly awaiting her fourth. Watch this space!
Melvyn Bragg was born in Carlisle and is president of the Words by the Water literary festival held every March at the Theatre by the Lake. This multi-award-winning author has dipped a toe in various forms of writing including novels, non-fiction, children’s books and even some screenplays! His ‘Cumbrian Trilogy’ is based in a fictional town that bears more than a passing resemblance to Cumbria’s Wigton and tells a family saga of three generations as they live and grow through the ups and downs of historical change.
Born in Manchester and trained as a journalist, Matthew Connolly now lives in the Lake District. His first novel, Dances with the Daffodils, is a fictional account of Luke Greenhead’s meeting with Dorothy Wordsworth – sister of the famed poet – during a visit to the Ullswater daffodils that inspired William’s beloved poem. Luke’s love for Dorothy results in a battle of forbidden love and tangled loyalties set amongst the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars.
Wild swimming guide extraordinaire and previous Sally’s Cottages employee, Suzanna Cruickshank, is the person to go to if you want to take a dip in one of Cumbria’s lakes or rivers. She is now also an author with the release of her debut book, Swimming Wild in the Lake District. Full of useful tips for brand new and experienced swimmers alike, it will give you lots of suggestions for fabulous places to explore the water.
Lake District farmer and Oxford University graduate James Rebanks is not only an author but also an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. His well-known book, The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District, is a fascinating and engaging look into the lives of those whose families have been shepherding on the Lake District fells for generations. From the toil to the rewards, Rebanks never shies away from honest accounts of life as a Lakeland shepherd.
Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park
If you’re fascinated by a bit of myth and mystery, then don’t miss The Corpse Roads of Cumbria about the many paths criss-crossing Cumbria that were once used to transport the dead from the remote villages of the county to a ‘mother’ church for burial. Researched in-depth by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park, a couple from Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria, the book was named Lakeland Book of the Year in 2019 and also explores Cumbrian funeral customs and superstitions.
You can see what’s in store with Alan’s guest blog, The Corpse Roads of Cumbria.
Hiker, blogger and freelance writer Beth Pipe loves a good walk in Cumbria and can be relied on for entertaining and informative books about this wonderful landscape. From a gin tour of Lakeland distilleries to Historic Cumbria: Off the Beaten Track, Beth’s knowledge, humour, and enthusiasm seep through her work until you can’t wait to get out and explore for yourself!
Take a look at Beth’s guest blog of her gin adventure around Cumbria.
Born in Carlisle, Sarah Hall began her writing career at the age of 20 with poetry. Her first novel is based on the Lake District lake of Haweswater, and explores both the history of the creation of the reservoir and the devastating effect it had on local families. Her other novels range from a dystopian world of oppression to the riotous world of Coney Island in the USA.
Chris Bonington is best known for his climbing: starting at the age of 16, he made the first British ascent of the North Wall of the Eiger and led the expedition that made the first ascent of the South Face of Annapurna, the biggest and most difficult climb in the Himalayas at the time. His 17 books tell of his amazing experiences up the likes of Everest and are a must-read for anyone who dreams of adventure.
You can find your own inspiration in Cumbria and the Lake District at one of our self-catering holiday cottages.