The Letters of Mary Wordsworth, 1800-1855

The Letters of Mary Wordsworth, 1800-1855

The Letters of Mary Wordsworth, 1800-1855

The Letters of Mary Wordsworth, 1800-1855

Excerpt

WHEN I visited England in 1952 of further light upon Mary Wordsworth, about whom I had been able to learn very little, Miss Helen Darbishire suggested that I read the Mary Wordsworth letters in manuscript at Dove Cottage. It is to Miss Darbishire that I owe my first debt of gratitude, for her gracious reception of me at Oxford and for the way in which she has opened every possible door of information to me. Characteristically, she has been extremely generous with her time and with her advice.

As I read the letters of Mary Wordsworth, I found in them not only the woman I had wanted to know but details that were lacking in the other sources of our knowledge of the poet himself. Just as I was becoming convinced that the letters should be published, I learned of Miss Joanna Hutchinson's large collection, which had been preserved through the years in the expectation that some day these letters of her great-aunt might be published. Miss Hutchinson, like Miss Darbishire, received me most hospitably, and generously permitted me to have her letters microfilmed. I am indebted to her not only for permission to publish these letters but for providing me with information about her family, much of it requiring patient research on her part into the Hutchinson history. I owe much also to Mrs. H. D. Rawnsley of Grasmere, who has been very active in locating further letters for me. The hours spent with her at Allan Bank have immeasurably enriched my knowledge of Grasmere history.

Mrs. Dorothy Dickson of The Stepping Stones, Ambleside, the great-granddaughter of the poet, has shown me every courtesy and made available to me letters in her possession, one of which is printed on p. 274. The Reverend C. W. Wordsworth, great-grandson of the poet, and Mrs. Wordsworth have likewise most generously offered letters in their possession.

I am indebted to the Trustees of Dove Cottage for permission to publish a selection of the letters there. I am most grateful to Miss Helen Read for assisting me in the transcription of the letters at Dove Cottage and to Miss Phoebe Johnson, the Librarian there, for her unfailing kindness to me. Their very generous help and the warm daily welcome of Mrs. Emily Kirkbride at Dove Cottage made a pleasure of what might have been tedious work.

It has been my good fortune to have the assistance of Mrs. Beatrix Hogan in the preparation of these letters for the press. She . . .

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