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Countrystride #95: CATBELLS & HUGH WALPOLE

...in which we make the classic ascent of Catbells to celebrate the remarkable life of Sir Hugh Walpole, at one time one of the world's best-selling authors, now a figure largely forgotten outside of literary circles. In the company of Walpole enthusiast Simon Dunant, we learn about the author's traumatic start in life – of family upheaval and boarding school abuse – that would shape the mind of a lonely young man increasingly passionate about classic literature. We consider Walpole's remarkable rise to fame and his establishment among the partying London literati – even as he sought to hide a forbidden sexuality. Following more trauma – this time on the Eastern Front – we discuss Walpole's deepening love affair with the Lake District; of his great Lakeland-set Herries Chronicle; of discovering peace at Brackenburn, his 'little paradise on Catbells'; and of finding, at last, a 'perfect friend' in chauffeur Harold Cheevers.




In the trees: Brackenburn, Walpole's 'little paradise on Catbells'.

Catbells from Skelghyll Bank.

Kate and Simon Dunant braving an icy wind atop Catbells.

Brackenburn nestled in the trees.

Simon at the memorial plaque - placed by Cheevers.



The Herries Chronicle (part thereof!)

Old postcard: "Mr Hugh Walpole at his Lakeland Home."

Map from early editions of the Chronicle.


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