VOLUME 14 NUMBER 1
FALL 2012

Romanticism: Life, Literature and Landscape

The Library recently acquired Romanticism: Life, Literature and Landscape, a new database largely composed of the manuscript collections, all digitized in color, of the Wordsworth Trust. This lavishly illustrated resource is a vast collection of William Wordsworth's original verse and prose manuscripts, notebooks and printed, annotated, editions. Other materials in the database include diaries, travel journals, scrapbooks, autograph books, letters, verse manuscripts, legal and financial records and receipts by such individuals important in diverse areas of Romanticism as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey, Dorothy Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Matthew Arnold, Charles Lamb, Benjamin Robert Haydon, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, John Ruskin and Thomas Gainsborough. Examples of the material in the database include such famous manuscripts as Wordsworth's The Prelude, Coleridge's Dejection: An Ode, de Quincey's Confessions of an Opium Eater, Mary Wordsworth's Memorandum and Journal of a Tour on the Continent; Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere diaries and her journals including Recollections of a Tour in Scotland.

The bulk of the resource's collections are the Dove Cottage manuscripts. William Wordsworth lived at Dove Cottage, close to Windermere in the Lake District, from 1799 to 1808, some of the most important years in his poetic life. These manuscripts are regarded as the most significant collection of Wordsworthiana "stored in a single place, and includes, for example, all contributing manuscripts to his greatest poetical achievement, 'The Prelude'. They include five complete drafts of the thirteen and fourteen book versions of the poem, plus the letter written from Goslar in 1798, in which Wordsworth sends Coleridge the earliest drafts of central passages. There is also the first complete draft of the 1805 'Prelude', written largely in the hands of Dorothy Wordsworth and Mary Hutchinson, with Wordsworth's revisions."

The database has numerous photographs of Dove Cottage, its rooms and gardens and of some of William Wordsworth's personal possessions, for example, his walking sticks, spectacles, silk umbrella, postbag, panama straw hat, inkstand, writing chair, socks, ice skates.

Also included in the database is an interactive map and a particularly interesting gallery of photographs showcasing the beautiful landscape of the Lake District that played a major role in inspiring the creativity of Romantic writers and artists.

There are also several useful essays that illuminate various aspects of the collection: Mary Jane Boland's Romantic Art; Penny Bradshaw's The Influence of Landscape on the Lake Poets; Jared Curtis's The Cornell Wordsworth: A History; Stephen Gill's William Wordsworth (1770-1850); Judith W. Page's Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals and the Aesthetics of Travel; Or, Nature and Art on Three Island Gardens. In addition, the database has short biographies of William Wordsworth, his family and others important in diverse aspects of Romanticism including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, Robert Southey, Charles Lamb, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Gordon Byron and many others.

A particularly interesting component of Romanticism: Life, Literature and Landscape are the more than two thousand digital images of landscape paintings, portraits and drawings from such celebrated artists as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, Benjamin Robert Haydon, John Ruskin.

Brendan Rapple
Collection Development Librarian