Another Country

A Guide to the Children's Books of the Lake District and Cumbria

James Mackenzie

As the sub title conveys, this is a book about the children's books of the area and the authors who wrote them.

Cumbria is an area of just over 2,500 square miles and was formed in1974 by merging Cumberland and Westmorland with the Furness part of Lancashire. There are perhaps twenty major lakes plus any number of tarns; in addition there are over 200 mountains many with the name of fell, rigg, scar, crag, pike or knott as part of the name. Most of these mountains are in either the Furness Fells or the Helvellyn range.

The author has divided the district into nine areas and attributed authors and novels to each area with a chapter to each area. The Windermere area is treated as two chapter areas, one part inhabited by Arthur Ransome and the second part by other authors. There is a final descriptive chapter on non-specific Lake District locations.

As we know the AR novels well, it is worth trying to judge the standard of description and review against our own knowledge. Certainly he summarises the novels well and makes a good attempt to link their locations to their real life counterparts.

A few of the other authors covered, such as Marjorie Lloyd and Geoffrey Trease, have been reviewed by other contributors to the Ransome Readers Recommend section of All Things Ransome. However the author finds and describes many other authors who have used the Lake District as a backdrop to their novels including well known names such as Rosemary Sutcliff, Angela Brazil, E J Oxenham and Lorna Hill.

Where a book is in print or easily obtainable the author gives scant details of the book, however he develops the plot more fully where a book is difficult to obtain. Overall he describes 155 books which cover a period from the Vikings onwards.

There are final chapters on further books to find and how to obtain them.

This book, although published in 2008, is still in print and gives a good guide to the children's literature pertaining to the area.

It is published by Girls Gone By Publishers, who specialise in reprinting children's novels of merit from a bygone age. Their website also lists booksellers who stock their books which may have themselves gone out of print again. Girls Gone By Publishers.

Reviewed by Owen Roberts, March, 2011

This article is ©2011 by Owen Roberts, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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