MS JJ in Notebook DC MS 19

Rather confusingly, Wordsworth's manuscript references often contain two elements. The first concerns the poetic work. Thus, as a manuscript which forms part of a series towards the completion of a work, "MS JJ" is one of many Prelude manuscripts. The second refers to the notebook which contains that work, with a "DC MS" (Dove Cottage Manuscript) reference. Thus, work towards the Prelude in the form of MS JJ, is found at the back of the larger notebook DC MS 19. Sometimes, of course, the entire notebook is also the manuscript for a work (e.g. MS B of Home at Grasmere and DC MS 58 are one and the same). MS JJ, however, is only a small part of the larger notebook, occupying the last 9 leaves and back cover.

DC MS 19 originally consisted of 6 gatherings of 16 leaves (8 conjugate sheets) amounting to 96 pages. In the notebook there are 94 remaining pages and stubs, with the second and second-to-last conjugate sheet stuck onto the board cover, to become the inside front and back covers. For both the first and last gathering, the outermost conjugate has lost its front page. This creates an apparently "hanging" page at p.14 and p.79 (pages which in the original gatherings materially correspond to 16 and 80). The notebook thus contains two "missing" leaves – used in the binding – and 5 stubs. Actually, however, the two missing pages may be still present, or in a cut form, but appear to be stuck in behind the inside back page to attach the paper gatherings to it.

On this site we have chosen to present MS JJ within the context of the notebook in order to provide the user with access to a perspective otherwise easily overlooked.

The full contents of DC MS 19, in order through the notebook, run as follows:


Prose Account of visit to the German Poet, Klopstock

Wordsworth's hand

Sept. 1798


Account of the journey from Hamburg to Goslar

Dorothy's hand

After Oct. 6th 1798


Notes on German Grammar

Dorothy's hand

Oct.-Feb. 1798-99


Fragment of an "Essay on Morals" (Inverted)

WW in DW hand

Prob.Oct.-Feb. 1798-99


Notes on German Grammar


Dorothy's hand

Oct.-Feb. 1798-99


Prelude Draft: MS JJ

Largely WW hand

(1page DW hand)

Oct.-Feb. 1798-99.

(Prob. Nov.-Dec.)

The empty box in the table represents the later 1802 entry by Dorothy of her Grasmere Journal from 14th February to 2nd May, 1802. This fills a large middle section of the notebook from pages 25r-71v with 5 stubs after it.

You can view this information in the form of a spatial map by going to:

The Perspective of the Notebook

What is gained by viewing MS JJ in the context of DC MS 19? This site presents the Prelude material both independently and within the context of its writing in 1800. It does so in part to remind the user of the physical and material nature of manuscript materials and to reinstate the immediate context of poetic production as an important one for understanding the poetry.

When we view MS JJ in the context of the notebook we learn about how William worked, the relations of William and Dorothy and the way in which different works relate to each other.

Viewed as a whole, DC MS 19 is very much a "German" notebook. As the Spatial Map shows, it contains immediate records of William and Dorothy's responses to people and to travelling in Germany. It also holds within it their attempts to learn the language, with pages of German verbs and summaries of Declensions by Dorothy.

It is a working notebook, then, containing whatever either of them feels like writing on a day-to-day basis and held in common. There is no sense that this is "William's" notebook. The closeness of William and Dorothy's working relationship is partly felt in this way, but also in other ways. At the back of the notebook, the fragmentary "Essay on Morals" is entered in Dorothy's hand, but is clearly dictated by William to her, although written in a free style that makes it look as if it is her own entry. Within the Prelude draft as well, Dorothy copies out the "soul of man" passage on Rr, showing her close involvement with the poetic drafting. Again, this hand is quite messily entered, with lines over-running the page width. Thus, although Dorothy must be amanuensis here, her role does not seem to be simply one of making a neat clean copy. Rather there is a strong sense of the two of them working closely together.

The perspective of the notebook also reminds us of the way in which MS JJ takes up only a small part of this book, is added at the back, and is not privileged in any way over anything else contained in it. For discussion of MS JJ's entry into the notebook see: MS JJ: Order of Entry for Prelude Draft

Over three years later, in 1802, Dorothy returned to DC MS 19 and, seeing that the large central portion of it was empty, filled it with her 1802 Journal, including some of her most well-known passages, such as that of the "Daffodils". As a result, the notebook was labelled "Diaries" and the value of the early draft hidden at the back of it was not immediately realised. For more details of this see: Publication of MS JJ and "The Two-Part Prelude": Full Editorial History.

Because the site is primarily concerned with MS JJ in 1800 it has not reproduced Dorothy's Journal within DC MS 19 photographically, except by indicating the first and last pages of this block.