Dorothy Wordsworth: Wonders of the Everyday at Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum

By Ben Miller | 27 March 2013

Exhibition preview: Dorothy Wordsworth: Wonders of the Everyday, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, Cumbria, until January 5 2014

A photo of a gold ring on top of lines of ink on paper
© Wordsworth Museum
As a writer whose Grasmere Journal remained unpublished until more than 40 years after her death in 1855, Dorothy Wordsworth is a literary enigma.

William Wordsworth’s sister was inseparable from her brother. But beyond that certainty, this exhibition is a tangle of riddles.

Some visitors, it suggests, see her constant sense of wonder at the natural world as a mix of compassion, powerful emotions and the dramatic.

Others believe she begrudged her responsibilities for household chores while William became a famous poet, or that, despite never marrying, she may have been in love with the writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a frequent visitor to their house.

Perhaps the most mysterious element of the exhibition is her brother’s wedding ring, which she kept on her finger as she slept the night before he got hitched.

Several lines in the Journal, corresponding to the day of the wedding in 1802, are inked out, but we do know she spoke of her “half dread” and the “concentration of all tender feelings, past and present and future which will come upon me on the wedding morning”.

Curators hope their trail will lead viewers to their own subjective opinions, deducing a truth or two about one of the 19th century’s most curious characters.

  • Open 9.30am-5.30pm (4.30pm from November 1, closed December 24-26, Dove Cottage closed Tuesday during December). Admission £4.50-£7.50 (free for under-6s, family ticket £17.20). Book online. Follow the venues on Twitter @wordsworthtrust.

More pictures:

A photo of a small pair of scissors on top of a length of white quilt
© Wordsworth Museum
A photo of an old envelope and letter with ink on it
© Wordsworth Museum
A photo of a quill in a small ink container
© Wordsworth Museum
A photo of a small white china cup with a blue floral design on it on a wooden table
© Wordsworth Museum
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