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Make Your Own Goslar Letter

An activity to understand the construction and folding sequence of Wordsworth's Goslar letter.

Have a go at the first task. If you enjoy it, you can try tasks 2 and 3 as well. You can download the materials you need for these tasks below.

For ease of reading, you will also find a high resolution version of the Goslar letter (inside and outside) in the downloads section. You may need to use your PDF reader magnifier to zoom in to read the text.

Make your own copy of the manuscript of the ‘Letter from Goslar’ and the corresponding transcriptions. You have transcriptions for one half of each side of the letter of each sheet only.

Task 1 – Making the Manuscript into a Letter

To recreate the total manuscript and fold it up as a letter, print the two large manuscript sheets (front and back) and stick them back to back to create a single two-sided large sheet.

If you don’t have a printer, you should be able to draw out a rough sketch of the manuscript.

Now fold this in half along the middle, ensuring that the address panel with wax seal and ‘GOSLAR’ on it is on the outside.

Next turn the page sideways and divide it into thirds along the fold lines, folding each side over. The address panel with 2 small blank areas to either side should be face up.

Turn the sheet over so that the address panel and the two blank spaces above and below it are facing you. Now fold the bottom blank up and tuck the top blank down into it.

This is how they created an envelope out of a sheet of paper in the late Eighteenth Century. You would seal the fold with wax. Your letter is ready to post!

If you enjoyed this task, you can try task 2 and 3 as well.

Task 2 – Making the Manuscripts into a readable transcribed text

Take an A3 sheet of paper (or join together 2 sheets of A4).

Print the manuscript and transcriptions pages. Cut the manuscripts in half to correspond to the transcript.

Find the half with the address panel on it, and stick it onto one half of the A3 sheet. Stick the corresponding transcription alongside.

Turn the page over and do the same for the second manuscript image of the back of the letter.

Alternatively, cut out each section of the manuscript page and the transcription corresponding to that section and stick them next to each other. This will create a full A3 page mixing transcription and manuscript text together.

It may or may not be easier to read!

If you don’t have a printer, we have partially assembled an example for you to read on screen. See the download section below.

Task 3 – Interpretative Exercise

Now that you’ve assembled the manuscript, read each part then choose one or two sections of poetry to focus on and write a 300 word response to the passage, incorporating the prompts below.

If you don’t have a printer, you can work from the PDF transcription in the downloads section.

How does the letter-form affect your response to the poetry?

What difference does it make to read the poem in this context?

How important is Coleridge (the recipient of the letter) to Wordsworth do you think, as the first reader of this poetry?

If you have enjoyed these tasks and found them interesting do also go to the ‘From Goslar to Grasmere’ website made by us in conjunction with The Wordsworth Trust to explore more manuscript materials.

© Lancaster University
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William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

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