WILKINSON, Thomas. Tours to the British Mountains, with the descriptive Poems of Lowther, and Emont Vale … London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey … 1824.
Small 8vo (166 × 107 mm), pp. viii, 320; some occasional spotting, a couple of gatherings sprung; original drab boards, rubbed, spine heavily worn (revealing binder’s waste).
First edition of the book which inspired Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Reaper’. ‘Thomas Wilkinson [1751–1836] was a Lake District land owner. In 1787 he visited Scotland, and his Tours of the British Mountains is one of the earliest accounts of what was then a relatively inaccessible area. In it, Wilkinson describes a moment in which he 'Passed a female who was reaping alone: she sung in Erse [a Scottish variant of the Gaelic language] as she bended over her sickle; the sweetest human voice I ever heard: her strains were tenderly melancholy, and felt delicious, long after they were heard no more.' Though Wilkinson’s account was not printed until 1824, Wordsworth, who had visited Scotland himself in 1803, read it in manuscript, and wrote “The Solitary Reaper” around 5 November 1805’ (BL website, commenting on the autograph copy of Wordsworth’s poem, sent to Wilkinson; Add MS 60580).
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