Centre for the History of the Book

Exhibition: Photographing Wordsworth Country

Tom Mole and Tess Goodman from the Centre for the History of the Book have curated a new exhibition in the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere that showcases the connections between illustrated editions of Wordsworth and the growth of tourism in the Lake District.

Victorian tourists in the Lake District

The exhibition is at The Wordsworth Museum until 2 January, and there’s an online version here.

As Wordsworth became more and more popular, tourists flocked to the Lake District to tour 'Wordsworth Country', guided by photographically-illustrated editions of Wordsworth’s poetry, and then by professional photographs of the area.

Mid nineteenth-century editions of Wordsworth’s poems, such as Thomas Ogle’s Our English Lakes, Mountains and Waterfalls (1864) used original, hand printed photographs in each individual book, so no two copies are identical. You can see several copies of this book in the exhibition.

Photographs in these books illustrated places linked to Wordsworth’s life and work as 'Wordsworth Country' gained in popularity with visitors; these places were then photographed by individual tourists, became part of their own memories and life stories and popularised the concept of the Lake District as ‘Wordsworth Country’.

The exhibition displays a wonderful homemade album of original photographs captioned with poetic quotations from Wordsworth, which provides a great example of Wordsworth’s words being the inspiration for a tour.

Tom Mole will give a talk about the exhibition at The Wordsworth Trust on 8 October, in association with the Grasmere Book Fair.  More details here.