Joseph Wilkinson, Select Views in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, 1810

Wordsworth anonymously authored the introduction to Select Views in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, an expensive, large-format collection of Rev. Joseph Wilkinson’s landscape drawings of the English Lake District. The first page ends with a passage that Wordsworth especially liked, one in which he invited readers to imagine looking down on the lake district from above, as if sitting on a cloud between the mountains.


Wordsworth eventually revised this introduction and published it as a stand-alone guidebook twelve years later. A Description of the Scenery of the Lakes in the North of England (more commonly known as the Guide to the Lakes), along with subsequent editions of Wordsworth’s Guide (1823, 1835), was published as a small, travel-size pocket book, complete with a fold-out map for a traveling reader. Wordsworth’s Guide, which contained excerpts from poems alongside the author’s descriptive prose, helped define the Lake District as “Wordsworth Country.” It is fascinating that one of Wordsworth’s most unique and popular works started out as a bit of ghost-writing!

Contributed by Sarah Safsten