Dorothy Wordsworth And The Profession Of Authorship: A Critical Commentary On Her Letters, Journals, Life Writing, And Poetry

Author: Smith, Kenneth Edward
This study reveals the range of Dorothy Wordsworth’s letters, journals, narratives and poetry. It also examines her severe self-criticism and appeal to readers of subsequent generations.


“…[this book] claims, and is able to demonstrate, that as her own self-critical reader Dorothy Wordsworth was able, over a period of forty years, to produce works of lasting lit4erary value that would find an enthusiastic response, if not among her contemporaries, then in future generations of actual readers.”-Prof. Stewart Crehan, Open University

“…a sensitive, nuanced, involving study, which gives an insight both into Dorothy Wordsworth’s range and skill as a writer, and into the ways she has been viewed in relation to Romanticism.”-Prof. Felicity James, University of Leicester

“Many well-chosen quotations from the primary works discussed keep the study grounded, and the reader, in this impressively undigressive and self-effacing book, is always close to the experience of reading Dorothy Wordsworth. I envisage a wide readership…”-Prof. David Chandler, Doshisha University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Foreword by Stewart Crehan


Acknowledgements and Textual Note


xDorothy Wordsworth: A Brief Chronology

1. Introduction: The Practice of Writing
i. Dorothy Wordsworth’s Critical Reputation
ii. Scope and Aims of the Present Study

2. Maintaining a Progress: Letters 1787-1829
i. The Informal art of Letter-writing
ii. Letters as Life-Narratives
iii. Literary and Social Themes in the Letters
iv. Correspondence with Female Friends
v. Correspondence with Male Friends

3. ‘Simplicity & Unity & Life’: The Alfoxden and Grasmere Journals
i. The ‘Unique Style’ of the Early Journals
ii. Twenty-first Century Approaches: Feminist and Ecocritica
iii. Aesthetic Perspectives:The Picturesque, The Beautiful and the Sublime
iv. Dorothy Wordsworth’s Dissenting Vision
v. Three Visions of Nature
vi. The Human Context: Itinerants and Neighbours

4. Moving to the Imagination: Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, 1803
i. A Publishable Tour?
ii. The Picturesque Traveller
iii. Scotland’s ‘Inhabited Solitudes’
iv. A Woman Meeting Women
v. Travel as Active Learning

5. Salutary Passion:
A Narrative Concerning George and Sarah Green
i. Writing to Commission
ii. Family and Community
ii. A Cohesive Narrative

6. Sublime Spectacle: Journal of a Tour on the Continent, 1820
i. A Writerly Authority
ii. Shaping the Narrative
iii. Crossing the Alps — Thirty Years On
iv. Returning the Reader Home

7. Falling Slantward: Shorter Journals 1805-1828
i. The Education of the Senses
ii. An Excursion on the Banks of Ullswater
iii. The Ascent of Scawfell Pike
iv. Journal of my Second Tour in Scotland
v. A Tour of the Isle of Man
vi. The Quest for Unity

8. The Pulse of Life: Poems 1805-1835
i. Setting up as a Poet
ii. Poems of Childhood
iii. Other Women’s Lives
iv. Suffering and Affirmation
v. Memory and Creativity

9. Conclusion: The Profession of Authorship
i. The Sustained Achievement
ii. A Writer of Sensibility
iii. The Art that Conceals Art