Guide to the Lakes
William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes gives a first-hand account of his feelings about the unique countryside that was the source of his inspiration. He addresses concerns that are relevant today, such as how the growing number of visitors, and the money they might bring, would affect such a small and vulnerable landscape. It is now understood that Wordsworth’s notion of the Lake District as ‘a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy’, expressed in his Guide, gave a rationale for the foundation of the National Trust in 1895 and the establishment of the Lake District National Park in 1951.
Furthermore, the 2017 nomination document for the Lake District as a World Heritage site quotes this phrase in recognition of Wordsworth’s contribution to the idea that ‘landscape has a value, and that everyone has a right to appreciate and enjoy it’. We can now see how Wordsworth’s Guide has had a far-reaching influence on the modern concept of legally-protected landscape. First published in 1810 and repeatedly revised by its author over the ensuing twenty-five years, William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes has long been considered a crucial text for scholars of Romantic-era aesthetics, ecology, travel writing, and tourism.
Oxford University Press