Lancaster University academics Professors Sally Bushell and Simon Bainbridge have helped to uncover Northern landscapes in a new BBC Radio 4 documentary.
The episode, entitled ‘The Matter of the North: The Power of Northern Landscapes’, first aired on September 2. The episode details Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s fascination with the sublime Northern countryside, what Professor Bainbridge describes as a “stunning location.”
Presenter Melvyn Bragg discovers ‘matters of the North’ in the ten-part series and describes the landscape himself as “quiet and spectacular, modest and addictive.”
Professor Bushell, Head of English & Creative Writing, was interviewed in Dove Cottage, the previous home of the well-renowned poet William Wordsworth and his family. It is here where Wordsworth wrote the majority of his poetry, including the infamous Prelude.
Professor Bushell said that “Wordsworth values the core values of the North… and how we internalise the places in which we live and they become part of us in some way.”
The documentary discusses further works including those from Ruskin, Ted Hughes, the Brontes, and even talks about some works from more contemporary writers such as Simon Armitage. Professor Bragg details how Northern landscape continues to shape writers today.
Professor Bushell said that “although we divide England up into North and South, for me another key division is East and West.” She describes her love for particular areas of the country saying: “I really love the West of England both in the North and the South. I love the wildness of both these landscapes: Cornwall and Cumbria – as well as the West of Scotland.”
Professor Bainbridge was interviewed walking in Coleridge’s footsteps, among the landscape of the Lake District, along with PhD student Frank Pearson, who studies British Romanticism.
Professor Bainbridge discovers that the landscape was a “rejection of metropolitan ways” for Coleridge. Sounds of the Lake District can be heard in the background as Bragg walks along the Northern countryside with Professor Bainbridge and Pearson.
“It was a pleasure and an honour to meet Melvyn Bragg… an influential figure in the Arts in this country and a great supporter of Literature” are the words of Professor Bainbridge who is clearly a great admirer of the Bragg.