Corpus of Lake District Writing, 1622-1900

The Corpus of Lake District Writing currently comprises 80 works written between the early seventeenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The earliest items in the corpus are extracts from Michael Drayton’s chorographical poem Poly-Olbion (1622). The most recent item is the twenty-second edition of Adam and Charles Black’s popular ‘shilling’ Lakeland guidebook (1900). Arranged between these two titles is a diverse collection of accounts of the Lake District and its adjacent environs. In some instances, these appear as selections from works that are only partly concerned with the Lake District, such as Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland, and Voyage to the Hebrides (1774). For the most part, however, the corpus contains works reproduced in their entirety. Some authors in the corpus, like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, were well-known in their day and continue to be widely read now. Wordsworth is still, perhaps, the writer most popularly associated with the Lake District. Other writers were well-known in their day but are often overlooked now: James Plumptre, Harriet Martineau and Edwin Waugh, for instance, all impacted upon the way that their contemporaries responded to Lakeland, and their inclusion in the corpus reflects their historical and literary significance. In addition, the corpus includes forgotten texts by still-famous writers: John Ruskin’s juvenile poem Iteriad (completed 1830-32), for example, takes its place in the corpus as a significant piece of Lake District writing. The corpus continues to grow, and aims to be representative of the kinds of writing being produced about and in Lakeland throughout this three-hundred-year period. In order to analyse the corpus spatially, computational techniques from natural language processing were used to identify the place names in the texts, and to assign them with mappable co-ordinates; this is a process called geoparsing. This geroparsed data can then be read into a GIS.

Click here for a spreadsheet of the full corpus.

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