Exploring the hills around Grasmere on our first day

“RETROSPECT–LOVE OF NATURE LEADING TO LOVE OF MAN […] With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel, In that enormous City’s turbulent world Of men and things, what benefit I owed To thee, and those domains of rural peace, Where to the sense of beauty first my heart Was opened; tract more exquisitely fair Than that…

Entering Dove Cottage for the first time

Monday, March 13, 2017: Not typically a very emotional person, I was very surprised that, as I was walking up to the front door of Dove Cottage, I teared up a bit. Dove Cottage is such a special place, a place that William and Dorothy primarily made as a home for themselves and eventually Mary…

Encountering the Collection at the Jerwood Centre

Monday, March 13 2017: Seeing Wordsworth’s own manuscripts, his letters, his library, Dorothy’s journals, and their family members’ and friends’ letters was an absolutely invaluable, one-of-a-kind privilege. We learned safely to remove rare books from shelves, how to handle them, and a bit about preserving them. We could see the unevenness from pages of books having…

Arriving at John’s Grove

Monday, March 13 2017: We walked to the top of the hill next to Dove Cottage, taking in the view and breathing in the fresh air after a long day hard at work looking at manuscripts in the library. Eventually, we arrived at John’s grove and read sections from Wordsworth’s poem, “When to the attractions of…

Reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal in John’s Grove

Monday, March 13 2017: “He thought that it would be as sweet thus to lie so in the grave, to hear the peaceful sounds of the earth & just to know that ones dear friends were near.” Monday afternoon, the group took a nice walk up to John’s grove, expecting to take in the sight…

Tea and Toast in Dove Cottage

 Monday, March 13, 2017: “I heard a thousand blended notes, While in a grove I sate reclined, In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts Bring sad thoughts to the mind.” – Lines Written in Early Spring In the evening, we returned to Dove Cottage and engaged in a tried and true English pastime: drinking tea…

Reading “Elegiac Stanzas” in Dove Cottage

Monday March 13, 2017: Later that night, Jeff led us to the sitting room, where we listened to Noor’s reading of “Elegiac Stanzas.” She sat in Wordsworth’s very own chair, by Sir George Beaumont’s painting of the Piel Castle, and we stood in the comfort of the candlelight, our silence gently disrupted by the steady…

Meeting Pamela Woof, the editor of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journals

Tuesday, March 14, 2017: On Tuesday, we met Pamela Woof, the editor of Dorothy’s journals and a key figure in developing the Wordsworth Trust. Despite initially publishing the journals thirty years ago, she was incredibly animated and eagerly discussed her newest project with Dora’s journals. She spoke for about three hours straight, including right through…

Making Ink and Writing with Quills

Tuesday March 14, 2017: Though I knew that the act of writing wasn’t as easy in Wordsworth’s time as it now, that fact definitely became even clearer as we attempted to write with the quills, learned the recipe for ink, and made our own paper. We talked about the implications this had on William’s writing….

Making Paper

Tuesday March 14, 2017: On Tuesday morning, we learned the process of making paper during Wordsworth’s time–pretty time-consuming and complicated! We had to Scoop bits of cotton from a water bin onto a flat, rectangular screen Choose flowers/grass/other odd little things to stick onto the screen, to be pressed into the paper Press the screen in…

Reliving Wordsworth’s Schooldays: Colthouse and Hawkshead

Wednesday March 15, 2017: On Wednesday, one of our first excursions was to Anne Tyson’s house, where Wordsworth lived while he was a student at Hawkshead Grammar School. We took a bus—driven by Jeff Cowton, the curator of the Jerwood Centre—from our hotel in Grasmere to Hawkshead. Formerly a National Trust house, Colthouse is now…

“Wisdom and Spirit of the Universe!”

Wednesday March 15, 2017: On the way to Hawkshead from Colthouse, having arrived at the top of a hill, we read from The Prelude. WISDOM and Spirit of the universe! Thou Soul, that art the Eternity of thought! And giv’st to forms and images a breath And everlasting motion! not in vain, By day or…