No of pages: 304
Other Editions: Hardback
The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth
From the acclaimed writer Frances Wilson, an immensely powerful new biography of Wordsworth’s beloved sister, collaborator and muse.
Often presented as a self-effacing virgin or sacrificial saint, Dorothy Wordsworth was in truth a talented writer and an exceptional woman. Dorothy was Wordsworth’s aide, his most valued reader and his inspiration.
Described by Thomas Quincey as the ‘very wildest ... person I have ever known’, she traded in all prospects of marriage and comfort to share in Wordsworth’s bohemian world of words. Happily accepting a hand-to-mouth existence, for a time she enjoyed with him a life of intense and unchartered freedom.
In her journals, Dorothy kept a record of their idyllic years together, detailing the mutton and moonscapes, walking and headaches, watching and waiting, pie-baking and poem-making. The tale that unfolds through her brief, lyrical writings reveals a strange, intangible love between brother and sister, culminating in Dorothy’s dramatic collapse on the very day of William’s wedding. In what sense, if any, was theirs an incestuous affair?
In her groundbreaking biography, Frances Wilson brings Dorothy to life in all her complexity. She uncovers the rich emotional life of the woman who inspired the best poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge: a woman who spent a life in thrall to her brother, suffered the jealousies of a discarded mistress - and eventually descended into madness.
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