The surprising international cultural consequences of poetic life in Ullswater.
We have grown to think that Lakes creative life has always been sunnily bucolic, the backdrop to the pretty words of the serenely titled Sublime, and Romantic Movements, which flourished in the Lake District.
However, after a bit of thought, we could speculate, that Wordsworth and his famous daffodils were significantly responsible for a chain of creativity that leads directly to the Beatles and their ‘recreationally’ inspired music - and through to blockbuster Hollywood films of the grittier kind.
Surprisingly, the early Lake District tourist experience was billed as frightful and abhorrent, it was a place to avoid like the plague - having penned Robinson Crusoe in the early 18th Century, Daniel Defoe still though the Lake District was the most awful place he’d ever seen.
Only the almost continuous wars Britain waged across Europe in the late 18th C. forced restive travellers to explore their country in more depth, rather than adventuring abroad. Wordsworth, and the Romantic Movement poets provided further enticement to the Ullswater valley, who could resist a place where Daffodils danced beside the most beautiful lake of all? But at the point of writing his most popular poem, Wordsworth was suffering heart breaking personal losses, and his public persona had waned in popularity and critical regard. The daffodils were his salvation in more ways than one.
But such was his critical standing that he maintained professional friendships with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (The Ancient Mariner), and Thomas de Quincey, (Confessions of an English Opium Eater); admiring enough for them to take up residence in the Lakes to be near him. Both were inspired by the particular splendid beauty of the Ullswater Valley and its fashionably melodramatic associations. However, in the innocence of the times, both had a fondness for ‘Kendal Black Drops’, an Opium based sweetened drug - putting Kendal on the map way before the more popular modern Mint Cake. His opium habits brought fame to De Quincey with his biographical publication - the first of what became known as ‘addiction literature’. A genre notably embraced by Aldous Huxley, and inspiration for some of the Beatles most controversial 'experimental' songs; before being enthusiastically embraced by contemporary Hollywood, with blockbusters such as ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, ‘Trainspotting’, and ‘Pulp Fiction’.