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Happy 250th Birthday to Dorothy Wordsworth, William's sister

Today is the 250th birthday of English poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth (1771, Cockermouth, Cumberland ).

Dorothy was the sister of William Wordsworth. For a long time, many dismissed Dorothy as simply her brother’s handmaid — she diligently wrote out his poems — but she wrote every day in her diary. William cribbed some of his most famous lines for poems like “I Wandered lonely as a Cloud” from his sister’s meticulous journals.

Dorothy Wordsworth’s parents died when she was a child, and she and William were sent to live with various relatives. Dorothy was always sensitive. The first time she saw the sea as a little girl, she burst into tears. When she and William were finally reunited, they never left each other, not for the rest of their lives.

Not least because William married his sister's best friend, Mary Hutchinson.

Their house in the Lake District, called Rydal Mount, is now kept as a small museum.

Have you stopped there when walking the area?

Posted by
3961 posts

Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story. Dorothy's Grasmere Journal described her day-to-day life in the Lake District. Long walks with her brother through the countryside, and detailed portraits of literary lights of the early 19th century, including Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey, a close friend who popularized the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Yes, William relied on her detailed accounts of nature scenes and borrowed freely from her journals. It would be wonderful to go the the Lake District and visit the museum. Happy 250th Birthday Dorothy.

Posted by
3122 posts

Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute. I haven't been there, alas. Maybe someday...

Posted by
3821 posts

Many thanks for posting this. Very interesting.

One of the very best trips I've had to England included the Lake District.
Lovely scenery, lovely lakes, spectacular mountains and trails.
We have not yet been to Rydal Mount, but will add it to our itinerary for next trip to the Lake District.
Websites for visiting Rydal Mount:

Another sight we are wanting to see is Dove Cottage, also open as a museum.
Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere where William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth lived from December 1799 to May 1808; they lived there for 8 years.
William first encountered Dove Cottage when on a walking tour of the Lake District with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1799. Dove Cottage was empty and available for rent, so they took up residence in December of that year.
During this period, William wrote much of the poetry for which he is remembered today, including his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality", "Ode to Duty", "My Heart Leaps Up" and "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", together with parts of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude.

William Wordsworth married his wife Mary in 1802, and she and her sister joined the Wordsworths at Dove Cottage. The family quickly expanded, with the arrival of three children in four years, and the Wordsworths left Dove Cottage in 1808 to seek larger lodgings. It was then that they all moved on to Rydal Mount, a few miles to the south just outside Ambleside.

The Wordsworths continued to rent Rydal Mount for 46 years, until Mary's death in 1859, William having died 9 years earlier. Rydal Mount was bought in 1969 by Mary Henderson, William's great great granddaughter. It remains in the ownership of the Wordsworth family and is open to the public.

Website for Dove Cottage: