Wainwright Revealed by Richard Else

Wainwright Revealed by Richard Else

A film-maker who collaborated with acclaimed Lakeland guidebook author Alfred Wainwright said he believes the man had Asperger Syndrome.

Richard Else makes the claim in his book Wainwright Revealed, which is published today.

Else, who has had a long career producing outdoors films for the BBC, said Wainwright’s precise and meticulous approach to detail and his obsessive need for order led him to conclude that the author had the condition, a form of autism.

Else had a unique relationship with the taciturn author and was the only person Wainwright collaborated with. The book chronicles some of the experiences the pair had, through their shared passion for the great outdoors.

The producer said: “We shared a similar life history and background.

“We both had experience of poverty. Wainwright came from a poor family in Blackburn and I spent a great deal of my childhood with my grandparents who were very poor, and I think that’s why he agreed to work with me, and no-one else.”

Else said he was not ‘the usual type of media person’ but a more considerate, sympathetic producer. “I believed we couldn’t ever have made a film about his work without Wainwright himself, but what we had was an unlikely relationship.”

Wainwright was in his 70s and Else early 30s.

“We were both passionate about the great outdoors – me in my broadcast career making films about the great outdoors.”

Wainwright led a largely reclusive life, with little contact with the outside world beyond his own family. Richard Else was the only person to persuade him to take part in television documentaries about his life and work during the 1980s and worked with him on a series of television documentaries.

“You’ve got a scoop young man,” were the first words Wainwright spoke to Else, before the first interview he recorded with him, which could have been the last.

Wainwright’s wife Betty was on his side. “She always chose her words carefully and waited for the right moment, said Else. “‘Red’, she said, ‘it might allow you to go back to some lovely places. And you do quite like Richard. I think we can trust him.’

“She persuaded her husband to take part in the filming and be interviewed in person.”

Wainwright who lived from 1907 to 1991, painstakingly hand-wrote and published his series of famous illustrated walking guides to the Lakeland fells. He created a 13-year plan for himself to complete the project and finished ‘a week early’. The guides included detailed maps and hand-drawn works of art which have given inspiration to fellwalkers since the first one went into print.

Wainwright began the series of seven guides to the Lake District Fells on 9 November 1952, and 65 years to this date Richard Else has published his book.

The new book includes 50 previously unpublished photos and has a foreword by Eric Robson, who presented the programmes and was tasked with coaxing conversation out of the untalkative subject.

  • Wainwright Revealed is published by Mountain Media Productions, price £19.99.