The Perfumed Mountaineer

Published: 11 May 2012

In a new BBC radio programme, Dr Hayden Lorimer talks about the life and work of W.A Poucher

Are you guilty of using a thousand words when a picture would do? Have you ever struggled to find words to describe a most beguiling fragrance? The wonders of smelling and seeing are a joy to us all, but also a mystery. A new BBC radio programme explores one man’s quest to capture the very essence of beauty.

‘The Perfumed Mountaineer’ is introduced by Dr Hayden Lorimer, a geographer at the University of Glasgow, and is based on his biographical research and creative life-writing about W.A Poucher (1891-1988).

For a generation of hill-walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, W.A. Poucher is warmly remembered as the author-photographer of many illustrated guides to the mountains and uplands of Britain. The other half of his professional life is less well known. Poucher was chief perfumer for Yardley, quintessential English beauty firm, and creator of the classic interwar fragrance ‘Bond Street’. A legend of the perfume industry, it is said he had a nose that could distinguish between one thousand scents.

Poucher Dr Lorimer said:  ‘Poucher is an utterly compelling figure. He was technically gifted, operating at the vanguard of science and art. And he was a most complex person, whose public and personal life was shaded by all kinds of double-ness. To tell of him and his times is to enter into the cultural life of Britain at a moment when styles of self decoration and social mores for self presentation were being redefined for men and for women.’

The programme will explain how in Walter Poucher’s unique life-world we can find unexpected lessons for everyday living in the 21st-century.  

‘The Perfumed Mountaineer’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 14th May at 11am. You can lsiten again via the BBC's iPlayer:

First published: 11 May 2012

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