Encountering the Collection at the Jerwood Centre

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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 been sliced and ripped out. We compared book sizes and bindings (or lack there of). We could see that contained in a given book were a whole bunch of different ideas and starts to things to the point that Noah and I could not for the life of us find what we were looking for within one of his books. We saw one of William’s poems written in the lines between one of Coleridge’s, and we got to see the blotting out of the wedding passage in Dorothy’s journal. These aren’t the sorts of things you can merely Google! I think we were all pretty moved by the letter from Richard to William and Dorothy concerning John’s death and by William’s response. We could see Dorothy’s “Amen”s scribbled about to test her pens. We certainly got a sense of the magical value of the manuscripts that Jeff told us about. There is something so remarkable about reading Wordsworth in Grasmere—how incredibly special that we were able not only to read Wordsworth but original manuscripts of Wordsworth here.

-By Krista

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