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events > 2003

The Wainwright Inaugural Memorial Lecture
Saturday, September 6th 2003
at the Rheged Discovery Centre near Penrith


The inaugural Wainwright Memorial Lecture was held on Saturday 6th September at Rheged, the Lake District Visitor Centre near Penrith and was presented to a capacity audience by the renowned author Hunter Davies. The lecture was open to the public as well as members of the Wainwright Society, who made up the majority of the 250 there.

The event included a visit to the Helly Hanson Everest exhibition and an option to stay for a meal after the lecture. Well over 200 visited the exhibition and a similar number stayed for an excellent meal.

Eric Robson, our chairman, introduced Hunter Davies to the audience, although he was clearly familiar to all present.

Eric also reminded us that the Society newsletter was in real need of material, stories with AW connections, fell walking or the Lake District. He also reiterated the challenge to members for photographs for the photographic competition promulgated in the September Newsletter. There will be no "fancy classes" and entries can be in print, transparency or digital form. The entries will be judged, hopefully by Derry Brabbs, immediately after the closing date of December 1st.

Hunter began by stressing that he was about to chat about the life of AW as seen through his researches for the biography which he published in 1995 and from subsequent examination. For over forty-five minutes he held the audience in rapt attention describing aspects of 'the man' which were unlike his commonly perceived attributes, the fun of his 'Private Eye' style notes and sketches of colleagues in the Borough Treasurer's office in Blackburn, his love letters to Betty, which, one day Hunter hoped may be published in full.

Hunter produced interesting copies of AW's 'flyer' for the first Pictorial Guide which was signed 'Alfred Wainwright' in contrast to him always being simply 'A. Wainwright' and also a copy of AW's death certificate which was hand written in a type of script not dissimilar from AW's own characteristic style.

Hunter signing books after the LectureWe were reminded that AW's first wife left him on the eve of his completing the Pictorial Guides and that the popular view was that his obsession with the project had led to this estrangement. Hunter, however, posed the question as to whether the fact that AW's marriage was effectively over after only three years had led him to seek solace in the hills and that without this we may never have had the Pictorial Guides at all.

The contrast of his second marriage to Betty could not be starker, with a shared interest in his work and a relationship of depth and tenderness.

Peter Linney, Secretary to the Wainwright Society gave a vote of thanks on behalf of all those present.

Over 200 stayed on for a meal during which Hunter passed round the copies of various documents to the delight of all.

Altogether a great evening.

Peter Linney - Wainwright Society Secretary