Arthur Ransome remains famous not just for his Swallows and Amazons books but also for his close links with the Lake District. This book places special emphasis on his continuing association with Lakeland. The author, W R (Bill) Mitchell, knows the area especially well, editing the magazine Cumbria for many years in a period overlapping that of Ransome and absorbing the true life of the region. Bill has inquired diligently into Ransome’s local life and interests. In these pages he visits such legendary Ransome haunts as ‘Wild Cat Island’, the steamboats that once ruled the Lakes, and Coniston Old Man. He goes to Nibthwaite, beside Coniston Water, where as a lad Ransome dipped a hand as a greeting to the lake. Also featured is the converted bank-barn above the Winster Valley where Swallows and Amazons was written. Finally, Bill pays his respects in the churchyard at the head of the secluded Rusland Valley – the last resting place of Arthur Ransome and Evgenia, his Russian-born wife.
About the author
W R Mitchell, MBE, Hon D.Litt, is the author of nearly 200 books, many of which concern the Settle-Carlisle railway. His journalistic career began at the Craven Herald & Pioneer in Skipton, from where he moved to Clapham, the headquarters of The Dalesman, a magazine he was to edit for about three decades. For much of that time he was also editor of Cumbria magazine.
In retirement, he raised the imprint Castleberg for a string of books he compiled, mainly about everyday life in the Dales and Lake District. His most recent book, also published by Great Northern, was Thunder in the Mountains: The men who built Ribblehead.
Bill’s honorary degree was awarded by the University of Bradford. In 2007, the Outdoor Writers’ and Photographers’ Guild presented him with their major Golden Eagle award. He was said to be one of the founding fathers of outdoor writing.
In September 2009 he was voted ‘Greatest Living Icon’ for the Yorkshire Dales National Park in a poll by this organisation to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Parks. The following year, May 2010, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dalesman Rural Awards Ceremony in Harrogate for his work in recording the history, heritage and wildlife of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors. In April 2014, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dalesman, he was voted no 33 in a poll to find the 75 Greatest Icons of Yorkshire.