William and Dorothy Wordsworth: 'All in each other'

Overview


William Wordsworth's iconic relationship with his 'beloved Sister' spanned nearly fifty years. Separated after the death of their mother when Dorothy was six, and reunited as orphans after the death of their father, they became inseparable companions. This is the first literary biography to give each sibling the same level of detailed attention; with Dorothy's writings set fully alongside her brother's, we see her to be the poet's equal in a literary partnership of outstanding importance. But Newlyn shows that ...
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William and Dorothy Wordsworth: 'All in each other'

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Overview


William Wordsworth's iconic relationship with his 'beloved Sister' spanned nearly fifty years. Separated after the death of their mother when Dorothy was six, and reunited as orphans after the death of their father, they became inseparable companions. This is the first literary biography to give each sibling the same level of detailed attention; with Dorothy's writings set fully alongside her brother's, we see her to be the poet's equal in a literary partnership of outstanding importance. But Newlyn shows that writing was just one element of their lifelong work to re-build their family and re-claim their communal identity; walking, talking, remembering, and grieving were just as important. This rich and holistic account celebrates the importance of mental and spiritual health, human relationships, and the environment.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/09/2013
Oxford professor Newlyn (Reading Writing and Romanticism) investigates the lifelong “creative collaboration” between the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. After the early death of their parents, Dorothy and William grew up almost entirely apart. But after reuniting on the cusp of adulthood, they lived together for their entire lives, with Dorothy joining William’s household until the end. Best known today for her lyrical journals recording travels with her brother, Dorothy was central to William’s creative process, to the extent that William called her one of “the two Beings to whom my intellect is most indebted.” Newlyn argues for seeing much of Wordsworth’s poetry as a kind of gift-exchange with his sister, asserting the therapeutic value of their creative community in overcoming early bereavement and poverty. Dorothy’s prose and William’s poetry were reparative, Newlyn claims, as the two cultivated shared memories, community, and an enduring bond with their environment. Along with close readings of their respective works, Newlyn provides useful contextual detours into theories of gift economy, 18th-century medicine and nostalgia, as well as themes in critical theory and eco-criticism. Though the book’s level of detail is best suited to specialists, Newlyn offers a valuable corrective to existing Wordsworth criticism and a moving testimonial to the power of creativity and community. 8-page b&w plate section. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

"[I]t is beautifully written and contains everything an enthusiast of either or both Wordsworths would wish to know about their lives and work; beginners and more advanced readers alike will prosper by it. Would that it had been available to me when I first began to read Wordsworth." -- Duncan Wu, Literary Review

"Newlyn provides an illuminating and extensively researched study of the relationship of the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and his sister Dorothy (1771-1855). The impressive list of primary materials Newlyn culled from includes Dorothy's journals, William's memoirs and classic works, and letters between the siblings. One of the book's most admirable elements is how Newlyn gives equal weight to her subjects' writings...This unparalleled examination of the Wordsworth siblings makes this title an essential addition to English literature collections." --Library Journal

"Best known today for her lyrical journals recording travels with her brother, Dorothy was central to William's creative process, to the extent that William called her "one of the two Beings to whom my intellect is most indebted"....Newlyn offers a valuable corrective to existing Wordsworth criticism and a moving testimonial to the power of creativity and community." --Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
★ 11/15/2013
Newlyn (English, Oxford Univ.; The Cambridge Companion to Coleridge) provides an illuminating and extensively researched study of the relationship of the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770–1850) and his sister Dorothy (1771–1855). The impressive list of primary materials Newlyn culled from includes Dorothy's journals, William's memoirs and classic works, and letters between the siblings. One of the book's most admirable elements is how Newlyn gives equal weight to her subjects' writings. Her focus is on their collaboration, which she beautifully describes as communal and creative. Newlyn examines the importance of several shared aspects of the innovative partnership, such as the profound meaning of home, the significance of nature and walking, and the crucial role of conversation. William and Dorothy were so intertwined in their writing that Newlyn finds it difficult to determine the original author of some works. VERDICT This unparalleled examination of the Wordsworth siblings makes this title an essential addition to English literature collections. Owing to its research and writing style, the book is primarily for an academic audience.—Stacy Russo, Santa Ana Coll. Lib., CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199696390
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/1/2013
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 697,541
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucy Newlyn was born in Uganda, grew up in Leeds, and read English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is now Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University, and a Fellow of St Edmund Hall. She has published widely on English Romantic Literature, including three books with Oxford University Press, and The Cambridge Companion to Coleridge. Her book Reading Writing and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception(O.U.P, 2000) won the British Academy's Rose Mary Crawshay prize in 2001. More recently she has been working on the prose writings of Edward Thomas. Together with Guy Cuthbertson she edited Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry, as well as England and Wales, a volume in the ongoing OUP edition of Thomas's prose. Married with a daughter and two step-children, Lucy Newlyn lives in Oxford. Ginnel, her first collection of poetry, was published in 2005: she is currently working on her second.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter One: Homeless
Chapter Two: Windy Brow and Racedown
Chapter Three: Alfoxden
Chapter Four: Hamburg
Chapter Five: Goslar and Sockburn
Chapter Six: Homecoming
Chapter Seven: Dwelling
Chapter Eight: The Grasmere Journal
Chapter Nine: The Orchard at Town End
Chapter Ten: Scotland
Chapter Eleven: Grasmere and Coleorton
Chapter Twelve: The Lake District
Chapter Thirteen: The Continent
Chapter Fourteen: Wanderlust
Chapter Fifteen: Rydal
Chapter Sixteen: Home
Abbreviations
Bibliography

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