Wordsworth, Dorothy (1771–1855)
Dorothy Wordsworth, who was born on Christmas Day 1771, was the middle child of the Wordsworth family, and closest both in age and temperament to her older brother William. At her mother’s death in 1778, Dorothy went to live with her second cousin at Halifax: she was happy there, but (following her father’s death in 1783) she was removed by her grandparents in 1787 to live with them at Penrith, where she met her brothers during their holidays from school at Hawkshead. In 1788 she went to live with her uncle, the Revd William Cookson, and his wife, at Forncett in Norfolk, where she remained until 1794: she kept in touch with William by letter during these years, interesting herself greatly in his progress at Cambridge, his walking-tour of 1790, his adventures in France and his relationship with Annette Vallon. There were short meetings during these years, but in the spring of 1794 they stayed together for the first time in the Lake District at Windy Brow, near Keswick; and in 1795 Raisley Calvert’s legacy enabled them to live frugally but independently, first at Racedown in Dorset (where she encouraged William to become a poet, and supported him during a period of anxiety and uncertainty) and then at Alfoxden. There the friendship with Coleridge, who described Dorothy as ‘a most exquisite young woman in her mind and heart’, deepened daily, and became a fruitful poetic collaboration between William and Coleridge, with active support from Dorothy.
KeywordsActive Support Middle Child Lake District Summer Vacation Grammar School
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