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In this video, Simon Bainbridge introduces week 4 of this course, which focuses on the Wordsworths' decision to come and live in Grasmere.
Welcome to week four of Wordsworth Poetry, People, and Place. So far, we’ve focused on the key themes in William Wordsworth’s poetry. We’ve looked at his treatment of the common man, in poems like “Old Man Travelling” and “Michael,” from “Lyrical Ballads.” We’ve also looked at the prelude and the way Wordsworth represents his own childhood, and his growth, and his development. We’ve stressed the importance of place to Wordsworth’s writing. We’ve also looked at the process of writing itself, particularly through our work with manuscripts in the Jerwood Centre. In this final week, we’re going to broaden the focus a little bit. We’re going to look at Wordsworth in relation to others, especially his sister, Dorothy.
We’re also going to look at his poetry in relation to other forms of writing, such as letters and journals.
I’ve come into the garden of Dove Cottage, where the sun is just beginning to come out. William and Dorothy moved into Dove Cottage in December, 1799, and that was a very important moment for them. For the first time, they were able to establish what they thought of as a household, as a home here. This was also the location for William’s marriage in 1802, when he married Mary Hutchinson, and it was a place where William and Mary started to have children and to see their family grow. The process of making a home was very important for William and for Dorothy, and they did this in a number of ways.
They did it through their domestic arrangements, they did it through the cultivation of the garden here, and they also did it through writing. So almost upon arrival, William started writing a poem called “Home at Grasmere,” and Dorothy took very careful, detailed observations of the place they had settled in in her journals. Dove Cottage was also important to William and Dorothy because they were able to establish, here, a sense of community. This was a place where their friends often came to visit them, so it was a busy place. They were visited by people like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was Wordsworth’s best friend and fellow poet.
They were visited by their younger brother, John Wordsworth, and also the Hutchinson sisters were frequent visitors, and William, of course, married one of those, Mary. So this week, we’re going to explore the process of homemaking. We’re going to think about why this area was so important for William and Dorothy. And we’re going to particularly look at Dorothy’s journals. We’re going to think about them in their own terms as important works of literature, and we’re also going to think about them in relation to William’s poetry.

Watch this film, in which Professor Simon Bainbridge introduces the key issues we’ll be covering in this final week of the course.

We’ll be particularly focusing on the Wordsworths’ decision to come and live in Grasmere and at Dove Cottage in 1799, making it their home. We’ll also turn our attention from William to look more closely at his sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, not just as his companion but as a writer in her own right.

If you’ve noticed that there are a large number of steps this week – don’t worry as some of them are very short!

We hope you will enjoy learning about the Wordsworths’ life in Grasmere.

Hopefully you will have a better understanding of the new tagging feature in this course now. In this week try to re-use tags which relate to something interesting or emergent, to help others focus on relevant themes – #sociallearning #commentdiscovery #cooperativelearning

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William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

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