Speaker: Hunter Davies
A sell-out audience attended the 2011 Wainwright Memorial Lecture at Rheged, when the speaker was Hunter Davies, Patron of the Society. Before the Lecture, the Society Chairman, Eric Robson, introduced a DVD highlighting the partnership that the Society has had with the Lake District Calvert Trust this year. This charity has been the Society’s main beneficiary in 2011 and money has been raised through the annual Challenge and sales of the Society Calendar. It is pleasing to report that a total of £700 was raised on the evening through sales of The Wainwright Letters, the Society Calendar and donations to The Calvert Trust.
Another task for Hunter was to present a glass tankard to John Burland, the founder of the Wainwright Society. John was instrumental in securing Betty Wainwright's blessing for the setting up of the Society and organising the initial meeting on 9th November 2002 at Ambleside.
Hunter began his talk by describing how he had first become aware of AW when he bought a copy of a Pictorial Guide and thought that Wainwright was a long-dead Victorian author! He went on to explain how he met AW when he was writing A Walk Around The Lakes in 1978. He remembered that during their three-hour meeting the telephone rang repeatedly, but that Wainwright did not answer it.
Hunter then explained the circumstances by which he gained permission from Betty to write the biography and the stories of the breakdown of AW’s marriage to Ruth, his subterfuge in using Ade Meyer as an unsuspecting chaperone on walks with Betty and the amusing tale of the millionth copy of the Pictorial Guides were all recounted.
Hunter then went on to talk about how he had acquired many of the letters, which have subsequently appeared in his new book, The Wainwright Letters. He tracked down people who knew AW and obtained copies or purchased the letters. He said that people kept Wainwright’s letters because they were beautiful, amusing, interesting or even saucy. He wondered if such a book would be possible in the future as people no longer write letters but communicate by email and a host of other ephemeral ways.
It was a fascinating talk and was very well-received by the audience. Following the Lecture, Peter Linney proposed a vote of thanks and Hunter then spent quite a while signing books and chatting to people. What a pleasant way to end a very successful Society event.
Press & Publicity Officer