Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Not Just the Lake Poets!

I’ve recently updated my Literary Guide to the Lake District, so that this comprehensive and entertaining guide is now easier to use and more helpful than ever. One of the fullest and most readable guides to the Lakes, it now gives websites, where these exist – and they usually do – for all properties that are open to the public and that have literary connections.

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Castle Crag and Gowder Crag, Derwentwater between

Arranged in five easily-followed routes so that you can drive or walk to any location with a minimum of trouble, or simply check out places as you get to them, the book is a guide to the places in the Lakes where writers have lived, or that they’ve written about, from Roman times up to the present; and it goes far beyond what you’d expect.

Of course the usual suspects are there. The Guide will take you, if you like, to every place that Wordsworth, or Coleridge, or Beatrix Potter, or Arthur Ransome wrote significantly about. But did you know that Thomas Hardy went boating on Windermere, rather than waste his time attending George V’s coronation? That Oscar Wilde lectured on Beauty in the Cumbrian coastal town of Maryport? Or that James Joyce wrote, in Finnegans Wake, about a monument in Penrith Churchyard? Or that First World War poet Edward Thomas was a keen walker in the Lakes and wrote a poem about a friend’s house there?

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Greta Hall, Keswick – Coleridge’s home from 1800 to 1803

The literary connections of Lakeland are rich and incredible, and this book will open them up for you – as it did for me when I researched it! I’ve been over every mile of the Lakes on foot for many years, and exploring its writers, both famous and little-known.

To quote some reviews, ‘The book is a joy and will be my constant companion’ (Angela Locke, Cumbria Life); ‘Deserves to be a classic of its kind’ (City Life); ‘Packed with enjoyable stories and excellent pictures’ (Manchester Evening News); and from Melvyn Bragg (Sunday Times): ‘For those who know the area well, the book will be a treat. For those who never set foot there, Lindop provides a book-lover’s feast.’

To order A Literary Guide to the Lake District, just click on the cover-image at the right hand side of this page; or find my page on Amazon.

Maryport LitFest Icon Is a True Venus After All!

Can't find any image of the lady herself: this is just a collection of altars in the Museum

As I’ll be speaking and reading poems at this year’s Maryport Literary festival, I’m delighted to bring you the following news item:

“The Venus Stone, focal point of this year’s innovative literary Festival in Maryport at the end of November, has just undergone a historical facelift. It seems she may be a true Venus after all!

Always interpreted as a representation of a ‘lady of the night’, the Venus was thought to be hanging about outside the fort gateway, with more than literature on her mind, and was possibly a sign for a brothel in the fort. However, new insights into the greater significance of the Venus Stone have recently come to light.

The figure next to the gateway is probably a true statue of Venus standing in a substantial temple dedicated to her, says stone expert Dr. Peter Hill. Dr Hill, in a Review of the collections at the Museum, has pointed out that the sculpture itself is of high-quality workmanship with the gateway shown with pillared arches. The temple has finely carved columns with capitals supporting an arch.

The stone itself would have been part of a major gateway within the fort. The gateway, the only contemporary representation of a gateway to a Roman fort, is the pattern used for reconstructions on Roman sites and films.

Archaeologist Lindsay Allason-Jones has further interpreted the sculpture as representing Venus in her role as a protector of men, but this year’s LitFest, the third to be based around a stone in the Roman collection, will be exploring every aspect of the Goddess of Love!”
Maryport LitFest
25-28th November
Read all about it at www.senhousemuseum.co.uk
or contact Jane Laskey at the Museum on 01900 816168