by Andrew Wilson

2nd Edition published June 1999 with Foreword by the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K.

This book deals in detail with the visits of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th. President of the USA (1913-1921), to the English Lake District and the nearby city of Carlisle in Cumbria, England.

An American President's Love Affair with the English Lake District - by Andrew Wilson (cover from the retitled first Edition)It was first published in June 1996 to coincide with the Centenary of Woodrow Wilson's first visit to Carlisle, where his mother was born, and to the English Lake District, the area with which he fell in love. This was his first trip abroad, and his priority had been to visit Carlisle to see his mother's birthplace and the church where his grandfather had preached, although it was only on a subsequent visit that he found the site.

He returned to the Lake District four times over the next 12 years: in 1899 on a cycle tour with his brother-in-law Stockton Axson; in 1903 with his wife Ellen; in 1906 with his wife and their three daughters, staying for the whole summer in a rented cottage; and in 1908 on his own for the summer. When on his own, he wrote wonderful love-letters back home to his wife, and many extracts from these are quoted in the book. He also made friends with local people, particularly the artist Fred Yates, who painted him several times and became such a close friend that he was invited to his Presidential Inauguration on 4 March 1913.

On his way to the Peace Conference in Paris at the end of the Great War, President Wilson returned to Carlisle again, with his second wife Edith, on what he called "a pilgrimage of the heart". This took place on 29 December 1918 and was a very sentimental affair, which he insisted on fitting in between meetings with Prime Minister Lloyd George and banquets with King George V and Queen Mary, with whom the Wilsons were staying.

Message from President Clinton at the White HousePresident Wilson's affection for the area continued in correspondence both throughout the war and until the end of his Presidency - when he wrote to a Lake District hotelier saying that he wanted to return again "incognito"(!) - and right up to his death in 1924.

My book, which was originally titled "A President's Love Affair with the Lake District", won the 1997 Lakeland Book of the Year Award for the best book on Cumbria's characters and people. It shows the more human side of the President and reveals him as a very loving, warm and affectionate man - full of geniality and good humour - unlike the rather dour and stern image people had of him in his public life.

I republished the book as a Second Edition in 1999 to coincide with the Centenary of his second visit to the Lake District and with the launching of a Woodrow Wilson Trail in Carlisle by the newly-formed Woodrow Wilson Society which is believed to be the first such society outside the USA.

Wordsworth's daffodils by the lakeshore road along Ullswater, loved by Woodrow Wilson. (Photo: Una Dance)The book includes details of all the places associated with Woodrow Wilson in the area, and a map showing where they are, so that people can follow their own Woodrow Wilson trail both in Carlisle and the Lake District.

Further information on Wilson's associations with Carlisle can be obtained from my collaborator, Peter Dance, who is also Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Society and lives in the house in Carlisle where Wilson's mother lived as a girl. Peter can be contacted by email on spdance@live.com.

Those who want to contact me or to buy the book can do so by by email to andrewwilson57@hotmail.co.uk; phone to +44 (0) 1524 413356; or post to 57 Thornton Road, Morecambe, Lancashire, England LA4 5PD. The price (including postage and packing) is 9 in the UK or 11 overseas.

Andrew Wilson
Web design by The
Dedicated Partnership
The DEDICATED PARTNERSHIP - promoting tourism