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Wordsworth, Dorothy (1771-1855)

Dorothy Wordsworth, author of the ‘Grasmere journal’, was born on Christmas Day 1771. She was the only girl in a family of 5: there were two older brothers, Richard and the poet William, and two younger, John and Christopher, making Dorothy the middle child. She seems to have developed her enthusiasm for, and sensitivity to, the natural world during her early years at Cockermouth. In his poem ‘The Sparrow’s Nest’, Wordsworth pays tribute to these qualities, and to their influence on himself: ‘She gave me eyes, she gave me ears; / And humble cares, and delicate fears; / A heart, the fountain of sweet tears; / And love, and thought, and joy.’ Dorothy's mother, Ann, died, after what seems to have been a long illness, when Dorothy was just seven, and her father when she was 12. After the death of her mother Dorothy lived with a succession of relatives at Halifax, Penrith, and Forncett Rectory, near Norwich. It is no wonder, then, that moving into Dove Cottage represented such a milestone for Dorothy. As a single woman without surviving parents her options were limited and her position vulnerable. Dove Cottage offered the first opportunity for her to have her own home, rather than being somebody's guest. She continued to live with her beloved brother William when he married Mary Hutchinson becoming a second mother to their children. She had kept a brief journal at Alfoxden in 1798 and kept her ‘Grasmere journal’ from 1800-3. She also kept a journal for her tours of Scotland (1803 and 1822) and her tour of the Continent (1820). For the last 20 years she suffered from a form of pre-senile dementia.

Information on Dorothy's visit to Carlisle in 1803 can be found in Joseph Massey's article.


See also: GRMDC.B11
Reference Wordsworth, Dorothy (1771-1855)
There are 1084 works by Wordsworth, Dorothy (1771-1855) in the Trust's collection, e.g.:
1988.45 'The Brothers' by William Wordsworth (10 leaves, text 2r-9v). Fair copy by Mary Wordsworth, with a line by Dorothy, and revisions by William. Composed between late December 1799 and April 1800; transcribed during Mary's visit to Dove Cottage between February and April 1800. Size 117mm x 182 mm (hxw).
1988.47(a) Wordsworth, Dorothy & Trickett, Rachel. Illustrated Lakeland Journals. London : William Collins & Co, 1987
1988.113 Wordsworth, William and Wordsworth, Dorothy. - The letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Second edition. VII the later years part IV 1840-1853. Revised, arranged and edited by Alan G. Hill from the first edition edited by the late Ernest de Selincourt. - Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1988. - 225 x 155mm ; text block height 215mm ; blue cloth, paper dust-jacket ; illustrated ; inscribed by Alan G. Hill ; annotations on pieces of scrap paper and post-it notes.
1989.109 Wordsworth, Dorothy. - Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. - Japan : Umidorisha, 1989. - 210 x 150mm ; text block height 208mm ; paper covers with dust-jacket ; Japanese translation of Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals, translated by Yasuko Fujii ; sheet of notes enclosed.
1989.116 Wordsworth, Dorothy. - Journals of My Second Tour in Scotland, 1822. - Tokyo : Kenkyusha 1989 ; printed Kenkyusha Printing company, Tokyo. - 218 x 159mm ; text block height 210mm ; red cloth covers with a dust sleeve ; first impression ; includes fold out map of Scotland at the back of the book.


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