After visiting Grasmere we drove on to Coniston Water on the way to our next overnight stop in Derbyshire. It was a lovely day and thankfully Coniston Water wasn’t nearly as busy as other places in the Lake District – such as Ambleside which always seems to be heaving.
We were making our way to Brantwood which is the lovely house that the writer, art critic, philosopher, philanthropist and environmentalist John Ruskin bought, it is situated high above Coniston Water and these photos were taken from the grounds at the front of the house.
You can see in the photo below that there are lots of wee boats and yachts in the lake. This lake inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons series.
And below is a photo of Brantwood, it has marvelous views of the lake. Ruskin bought this house unseen as he had often holidayed at Coniston and at a time when he was ill he thought that if only he could lie down in the water at Coniston he would get better. It must have worked as he lived here for many years.
I suspect that the one thing that everyone knows about John Ruskin is that his wife had to go to court to get an annulment for non-consummation of the marriage. That harmed his reputation for a long time but that was just a small part of a long life which included many interests. He was interested in educating ordinary working people, at this time education in England was in a very poor state compared with in Scotland. He was involved with progressive schools for girls, and he also set up workshops that trained and employed people who would probably otherwise be unemployed and destitute.
I’ll show you some photos of the inside of the house soon.
It’s a good long time since I read Swallows and Amazons and I don’t even remember one of the characters being called Titty, it can’t have struck me as being weird at the time. However her name is being changed to Tatty in a new film version which is being made by the BBC, you can read about it here. The author of the article, Nicholas Tucker has apparently written a lot about children’s literature in the past, but in this article he writes about words which were used by writers in the past, innocently, but which couldn’t be used today, such as ejaculate, meaning to exclaim, which used to be used by lots of authors including Enid Blyton if I’m remembering correctly. The word ‘screw’ in Victorian literature of course means salary, language changes all the time.
He goes on to mention that Angela Thirkell used the words ‘giant cock’ in her book The Brandons, it was of course a fairground attraction in the shape of a cockerel. Tucker seems to think that it’s unthinkable that Thirkell could have put that into her story deliberately. It smacks of those daft people who think that their generation is the one which invented sex!
Of course Thirkell put it in deliberately, and all of her readers would have had a right good snigger at it, her books are full of things like that, that’s what makes them so funny and popular in their day and now. Tucker seems to think that because Thirkell was rather snobbish and was a granddaughter of the artist Edward Burne-Jones, it means that a ‘naughty’ word would never have passed her lips! Whereas of course, her hobnobbing with rather posh people and being one of them herself makes it a dead certainty that she was a ‘bit of a goer’- as they say.
Tucker also doesn’t seem to realise that children’s books are written on two levels, one for the child and one for the adult who may be reading it to them.
I suppose he’ll be saying next that – a marquis’s son is unused to wine!