The Grasmere Journal was begun at Dove Cottage in May 1800 and kept for three years. Dorothy notes the walks and the weather, the friends, country neighbours and beggars on the roads; she sets down accounts of the garden, of Wordsworth’s marriage, their concern for Coleridge and the composition of poetry. The earlier Alfoxden Journal was written during 1797-8, when the Wordsworths lived near Coleridge in Somerset. Not intended for publication, but to ‘give Wm Pleasure by it’, both journals have a quality recognized by Wordsworth when he wrote of Dorothy that ‘she gave me eyes, she gave me ears’.
Reviewed by Roger Hudson in Slightly Foxed Issue 61.
A Perfect Electrometer
My Cambridge tutor was bubbling over with pleasure one morning in 1962 after reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, the one she kept between 1800 and 1803 when living with her poet brother William at Dove Cottage in the Lake District. What he had been particularly taken with was something she wrote on 14 May 1802 when the two had been walking in the woods alongside Grasmere: ‘William teased himself with seeking an epithet for the Cuckow.’ I never forgot this slightly comical picture of the creative process, but it was almost thirty years before I came to read her journal myself when doing a book on Coleridge among the lakes and mountains . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 61, Spring 2019