Back in the late-1760s the poet Thomas Gray travelled twice to the Lake District. The first visit was very short but he was so impressed that he returned a couple of years later and wrote extensively about about it. Sadly, he died in 1771 but in 1775 his account was publish as a “Journal of his Tour in the Lake District”.
This became an extremely popular book at the time. Other writers such as West added their own descriptions in words, but Joseph Farrington followed in Gray’s steps not as a writer but as a watercolour artist. It is more than two centuries since it was suggested that Gray’s prose should be published accompanied by illustrations, and now it has been done, using Farrington’s paintings from the same era.
John Murray, of the publishing family of the same name, has brought together Gray and Farrington, and gone even further. He has also published present day photographs to compare what the writer and painter of 250 years saw with what we can see today. Any lover of the Lake District will be intrigued and fascinated to see how the Landscape has changed (which it has) and also how it has stayed the same (which it also has). This mixture of basic stability and living development is surely what we should expect of a landscape over time – please note, those who want now to freeze it!
From now until early January 2013 the Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, has an exhibition running, “Pen, Paint and Pixels: Touring the English Lakes across 250 years”. This is one not to be missed.