Sunday, January 14, 2024

Dorothy Wordsworth’s Lake District

Ullswater, Cumbria.

When we were allowed out to exercise during the first Covid lockdown in 2020 we started walking the Ullswater Way in sections. See “The Ullswater Way - In the Footsteps of Dorothy Wordsworth”. Dorothy is the sister of William Wordsworth. 

Part way through this I was contacted by Paul Westover of Brigham Young University, USA, who was helping compile an electronic edition of some of Dorothy’s Lakeland writings to be published by the University of Colorado. These included "Excursion on the Banks of the Ullswater". However due to Covid he was unable to get to the UK to take pictures himself and wanted to use my photos.

I happily gave him permission to use any pictures from the blog. He also had a wish list of photos which gave us an added purpose and focus to our later walks - as well as being delightful walks in their own right. 

After some delays this online edition is now available at Dorothy Wordsworth’s Lake District:

“Dorothy Wordsworth is one of the most distinctive voices of Romantic-era literature: the author of extraordinary journals, poems, narratives, letters, and natural descriptions. This edition celebrates her work as a literary guide to the English Lake District. It offers access to works from across her career, all newly edited from manuscripts, extensively annotated, and situated within their original material formats and circumstances of composition. While some selections are general favorites, others are less well-known, and a few (selections from the Rydal Journals) have never been published before.”

Table of Contents.

  • Introduction
  • First Notebook of the Grasmere Journal (1800)
  • "Excursion on the Banks of the Ullswater" (1805)
  • "A Narrative Concerning George & Sarah Green" (1808)
  • "Excursion up Scawfell Pike" (1818)
  • Rydal Journals (1824-5, 1834-5)
  • Back Matter

Loads of scholarly detail in the transcriptions and concordance of the various manuscript versions.

It also includes an interactive map of Dorothy’s walks:

A couple of my photos did make it into this edition at Reading Text of "Excursion on the Banks of Ullswater".

Stybarrow from Silver Crag.

Low Close Horse Farm.

When restrictions were lifted Paul was able to visit and we gave him a whistle-stop tour of Penrith and environs where I learned more about the Wordsworths’ connections to the area. 

Penrith Town Hall: formerly Wordsworth House, residence of the poet’s cousin Captain John Wordsworth.

Blue plaque.

Arnison’s: William and Anne Cookson, grandparents of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, lived here.

Plaque put up by the town council.

Penrith library: formerly a school for the children of upper-class families where the young siblings, Dorothy and William attended school (see Early life of William Wordsworth).

No blue plaque, but the school inscription above the entrance.

The Robin Hood: William Wordsworth stayed here with Raisley Calvert, 1794-95.

Blue Plaque.

Amongst other places we took Paul to Lowther Castle where Wordsworth’s father was a legal agent for James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale. He was thrilled to pass through Clifton because, as a man interested in history, he knew that it was the site of Clifton Moor Skirmish the last battle fought on English soil.

So in a very, very small way I have made a contribution and on the way learned a lot more about Dot and Bill. So that was nice.

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