Lakes spotlight on literary luminary


One of the country’s best known and loved literary and broadcasting luminaries is set to captivate when he reveals the impact of Cumbria on his widely acclaimed books.

Labour peer Lord (Melvyn) Bragg will be speaking at a public gathering at University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus on March 8, where MA literature students are studying his novel The Maid of Buttermere.

He said it was ‘very fortifying for literature about the Lake District to be studied at such a pivotal place’ adding it was an exceptional opportunity to be where great work had been imagined and written down.

The university’s new masters’ course in Literature, Romanticism and the English Lake District was hailed by the bestselling author, famed presenter of The South Bank Show and BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Lord Bragg said: “To be able to go to the places that William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Coleridge went to, as well as all the others who have written there, could be unique. 

“You are in the middle of, and surrounded by, much of what these and other writers, including Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome, Norman Nicholson have studied, lived with and written about.”

An Honorary Fellow of the university, Lord Bragg acknowledged he and Cumbria were inextricably entwined, explaining: “I’m rooted in the place, biologically, historically and imaginatively.”

However, while admitting Wordsworth was the Lakes’ writer closest to his heart, because ‘he covered all the territories’, he added when it came to favourite places, there were ‘too many to mention’.

Currently working on a new book, largely based on his childhood in Wigton, when asked if it could be a forerunner of a future autobiography, he said: “I’ve only just begun, but you could be on the right track!”

Lord Bragg said the area’s landscape, culture and people, which entranced some of the finest writers and poets, would inspire students, adding he hoped that the Ambleside campus would become an internationally recognised centre of excellence.

He added: “I would like to see work extended to cover writers from across the north west.”

Lord Bragg said he spent as much time as possible at his home in High Ireby, near Wigton, and was looking forward to being in Ambleside for what promised to be a lively event.

The university’s senior lecturer in English Literature, Dr Penny Bradshaw, said it had been a long-standing ambition to develop a literary presence at the Ambleside campus, showcasing the region’s literary heritage and contemporary greats.

She added: “I am thrilled our first cohort of MA literature students will have the opportunity to hear from such a well-known and widely-respected figure.”

Lord Bragg will be speaking at the Percival Theatre, University of Cumbria’s Ambleside Campus, on Sunday, March 8, at 2.30pm.

Tickets, priced £5, are available online at


Picture shows Lord (Melvyn) Bragg