Dorothy Wordsworth's Distinctive Voice

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Virginia Tech

The following study is interested in Dorothy Wordsworth's formation of her unique authorial identity and environmental ethos. I attend to her poetry and prose, specifically her journals written at Grasmere and her Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland (1874) to demonstrate how she shaped her individual voice while navigating her occasionally conflicting roles of sister and writer. My project begins with a chapter providing a selective biographical and critical history of Dorothy Wordsworth and details how my work emerges from current trends in scholarship and continues an ongoing critical conversation about Dorothy Wordsworth's agency and originality. In my analysis of Dorothy's distinct poetic voice, I compare selections of her writing with William's to demonstrate how Dorothy expressed her perspectives regarding nature, community, and her place within her environment. In my chapter on Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, I analyze the ways in which Dorothy's narrative embraces the tenets of the picturesque while simultaneously acknowledging the tradition's limitations. Her environmental perspective was inherently rooted in domesticity; the idea of home and her community connections influenced how she engaged with and then recorded the environments she traveled to and the people she met. My project concludes by demonstrating how Dorothy Wordsworth's environmental ethos relates to the values promoted by modern environmental writers. Dorothy was intimately connected to her home and environment and modern environmental protection and conservation efforts encourage human connection to home and place. I consider how modern environmentalist movements could benefit from embodying the empathy that Dorothy showed for the natural world in their practices today.

Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth, Romanticism, Grasmere Journal, Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, environmental ethos