Classic book on Wensleydale now available as audiobook

Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley in the Dales in the late 1930s.

The classic 1936 book Wensleydale by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley has been published as an audiobook to coincide with a special exhibition at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes (DCM).

The exhibition, View from the fells – In the footsteps of Marie Hartley, features new work by Ribblesdale artist Hester Cox as well as re-prints of the exquisite woodblocks carved by Marie Hartley to illustrate her books.

The Wensleydale audiobook is available for free listening or download on Soundcloud, with the woodblock images published alongside each of the 22 chapters.

“When you are in a Yorkshire dale any country beyond seems of little count,” the authors wrote, as they embarked on a journey from Lunds at the head of Wensleydale to Jervaulx Abbey, going through places such as Cotterdale, Hawes and Askrigg and recording their encounters with local people.

Museum manager at the DCM, Fiona Rosher, said: “We are always looking for new ways to share Marie Hartley’s love of the dales and that of her collaborators Ella Pontefract and Joan Ingilby.

“We hope the audiobook will make their work accessible to a new audience and help attract another generation to discover the Dales.

“In Ella and Marie’s words, by 1936 Wensleydale had already become a holiday resort.

“They said they envied the Victorian day tripper and how fresh and exciting it must have been then. And yet they tell the reader that Wensleydale has so many corners that ‘some you alone will discover’. That’s an observation that rings true even today.”

Ella Pontefract, from Huddersfield, and Marie Hartley, from Leeds, worked in partnership as author and artist in the 1930s and 1940s.

Their collaboration resulted in six books.

Wensleydale was their second work, published by JM Dent & Sons in 1936, illustrated with wood engravings and photographs.

JM Dent & Sons reprinted it in a smaller format from 1942 and Smith Settle in paperback from 1988.

After Ella Pontefract died in 1945, Marie Hartley went on to write and illustrate many more books on the Yorkshire Dales with Joan Ingilby.  Marie and Joan founded The Upper Dales Folk Museum in Hawes, which opened in 1979; it is now called the Dales Countryside Museum.

View from the Fells: In the footsteps of Marie Hartley has been given an extended run at the DCM until 24 January 2021.

The exhibition is the culmination of a two year project during which artist and printmaker Hester Cox researched diaries, sketch books and routes taken by Marie Hartley when exploring the Dales.

The exhibition features personal items, woodblocks, books and sketchbooks linked with Marie, displayed alongside new work by Hester.

The full audiobook is at https://soundcloud.com/yorkshire-dales