The talks were part of the Words by the Water Literary Festival. Lucy Newlyn's book about Dorothy and William Wordsworth - All in Each Other - and Katie Waldegrave's book about Coleridge and Wordsworth's daughters Sara and Dora - The Poets' Daughters - explore the lives of these important members of the Romantic poets' circle. Both events were really good and an excellent contrast.
Lucy Newlyn is an Oxford professor with years of academic research under her belt. Her book explores William and Dorothy's "creative collaboration". She demonstrates how the creation of memory and loss were of great significance to the brother and sister and how Dorothy's writings inspired much of William's poetry by creating a shared bank of memories on which they were both able to draw.
William Wordsworth’s creative collaboration with his ‘beloved Sister’ spanned nearly fifty years. Rumours of incest have surrounded the siblings since the nineteenth century, but Lucy Newlyn sees their cohabitation as an expression of deep emotional need, arising from circumstances peculiar to their family history.
Both talks were really interesting and informative, they were so different, reminding the audience of the many different approaches to writing and research. Both writers gave fascinating insights into important members of literary families.
We left the theatre and drove home, stopping off in Grasmere for a quick mooch around Sam Read's Bookshop and, finally, at Dora's Field in Rydal. The daffodils are just starting to bloom and it was very beautiful and peaceful. I could almost feel that Dora Wordsworth was with us.