Synopses & Reviews
Dorothy Wordsworth's journals are a unique record of her life with her brother William, at the time when he was at the height of his poetic powers. Invaluable for the insight they give into the daily life of the poet and his friendship with Coleridge, they are also remarkable for their spontaneity and immediacy, and for the vivid descriptions of people, places, and incidents that inspired some of Wordsworth's best-loved poems. The Grasmere Journal was begun at Dove Cottage in May 1800 and kept for three years. Dorothy notes the walks and the weather, the friends, country neighbors and beggars on the roads; she sets down accounts of the garden, of Wordsworth's marriage, their concern for Coleridge, the composition of poetry. The earlier Alfoxden Journal was written during 1797-8, when the Wordsworths lived near Coleridge in Somerset. Not intended for publication, but to "give Wm Pleasure by it," both journals have a quality recognized by Wordsworth when he wrote of Dorothy that "she gave me eyes, she gave me ears."
Wordsworth's "exquisite sister", as Coleridge described her, was not only the cherished companion of the two poets, but also a writer who possessed a geniune poetic imagination in her own right. The journals she kept at Alfoxden, in 1798, where her brother and Coleridge were composing the Lyrical Ballads and at Grasmere from 1800 to 1803, when she and Wordsworth were living at Dove Cottage are printed here for the first time as Dorothy wrote them. Two of Dorothy's poems are included in the appendix, along with thirty-three poems by Wordsworth, which are referred to in the journals.
Dorothy Wordsworth's The Grasmere Journals, begun in May 1800 while at Dove Cottage, and continued for nearly three years until January 1803, is perhaps the best-loved of all journals. Noting the walks and the weather, the friends, country neighbors and beggars on the roads, William Wordsworth's marriage, the composition of poetry, and their concern for Coleridge, her words bring those first years to vivid and intimate life. This edition has been prepared directly from the manuscripts with undeciphered words clarified, first thoughts, later insertions and deletions indicated, and Dorothy's hasty punctuation largely restored. It also offers rich explanatory notes, containing much new detail on friends and family, the scarcely-known people of the Grasmere valley, the books that were read, and the connections with William Wordsworth's poetry.