Here’s another article that I published in my Sixth Form’s newspaper, Sixth Sense, focussing on William Wordsworth and his connection to my home county, Dorset. This edition was the first official one that my team and I produced, available to read in full here: 2-september.
Born in the late 18th century, William Wordsworth helped to pioneer the way for the Romantic Age in English Literature. Wordsworth’s works such as the famous I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, as well as his collection of lyrical ballads that he shared with his friend, Samuel Coleridge, are his most reputable pieces of literature, nature often being used as a motif for the complex emotions that he experienced throughout his life.
This use of nature was undoubtedly inspired by his early life, for, although Wordsworth completed his work with Coleridge in Somerset, his family home was in the Lake District, where he was raised along with his four siblings, beside the picturesque English moors. Wordsworth had a particularly close relationship with his sister, Dorothy, who is also renowned for, in particular, her diary writing, and so after Wordsworth’s time in Somerset, he moved back to stay in a cottage with her in Cumbria.
What most people don’t acknowledge, or aren’t aware of, though, is Wordsworth’s connection to Dorset; his home being far from this very Southern county, any connection at all would be unexpected. In fact, it has been noted that Wordsworth spend at least two years of his life living with Dorothy at Racedown Farm, near Pilson, Dorset. There, they appeared to have lived very solitary lives, only accompanied by three members of staff, one of whom did not permanently reside at the farm.
This meant that the Wordsworth siblings were almost completely cut off from society; despite being born into the upper class, they could not afford the London paper, and so couldn’t keep up with current affairs or news. They did, however, surround themselves with the local nature. William took to his hobby of “hill walking”, where he learnt about the local history and began to thoroughly explore the area.
It has been recorded that Wordsworth wandered down to the sea at Lyme Bay on more than one occasion. One time that this happened, he witnessed the Great Indies fleet sailing right past him in all its glory, before it was brutally destroyed by a sudden storm. Ironically, this was close to the time when Wordsworth’s younger brother, John, perished at sea; as a Sea Captain, his ship was destroyed in 1805, a little further to the east.
Wordsworth did greatly admire the Dorset countryside before his return to the North, though; he climbed to the highest point at Pilsdon Pen and allowed his passion for walking and writing to give him a different perspective of his beloved English countryside; arguably, his time in Dorset may have majorly affected his later writing.