Dove cottage, where William Wordsworth lived for eight years, has no antique desks – Cumbria’s greatest poet much preferred to use an easy chair when writing his verses.
Where his sister Dorothy sat to write her journals is not known, but it may well have been the antique dining table in the houseplace; a cosy ground floor dining area below William’s study and bedroom. Dorothy’s homely writings, in which she captured the day-to-day happenings of the home she shared with her brother and, later, his wife and children. These diary entries, letters and so on were to prove vital to William Wordsworth’s own work, but at the time, Dorothy did not seek to find fame through them. It was not until 1897 – 42 years after her death – that her diaries were published as the Grasmere Journals.
Now, a new exhibition, Dorothy Wordsworth: Wonders of the Everyday, has opened at the Wordsworth Museum and Gallery, detailing how the poet’s younger sister captured the changing seasons through the drama and wonder of her prose. Utterly devoted to her brother, she never married but may have felt affection for his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who often visited. However, one of the exhibits – William Wordsworth’s wedding ring – is an indication of more complex emotions bubbling under the surface. Dorothy went to sleep wearing the ring before his wedding, and spoke of feelings of dread and a concentration of tender feelings in her journal.
The museum and exhibition are included in the cost of entry to Dove Cottage. People in Cumbria can find Victorian dining chairs and antique chests similar to those used by the Wordsworths at local antique dealers.
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