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William, Mary and Dorothy

The Wordsworths' Continental Tour of 1820

Pamela Woof


This was not an ordinary holiday tour.

The three Wordsworths, poet, wife, and sister, embarked in 1820 on something like a personal pilgrimage, a re-visiting of places that Wordsworth had seen as a student thirty years before. So extraordinary was it that Mary, never before a journal-writer, wrote an account of their experience. Her immediacy and freshness complement Dorothy’s more practiced hand, while Wordsworth, writing nothing during the Tour, composed his meditations afterwards.
The poems in his ‘Memorials 1822’ deserve a wider readership; they are true Wordsworthian meditations, attractive and charming, not on the sublime themes that had struck the poet’s imagination in 1790, but on time and change and something of the melancholy that must accompany three people no longer young making so historic a journey.
Pamela Woof takes us on that journey and offers samples of each writer’s style and response.


The Wordsworth Trust



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