The Wordsworth Trust is a living memorial set up to celebrate the works of the poet William Wordsworth and his contemporaries. Wordsworth, conscious of the need for poetry to renew itself within a tradition speaks of writing for 'youthful poets' who 'will be my second self when I am gone.'
An organisation set up to celebrate the contemporary as much as remember the past, it offers much in the way of contemporary visual art and poetry readings, alongside the historical home of Wordsworth, Dove Cottage (1799–1808) and a museum featuring relevant portraits and manuscripts.
Since 2000 the Wordsworth Trust has collaborated with Grizedale Arts on artistic projects such as the "We Are Seven Commune Project", which was a month-long residency for seven artists from New York.
Explaining the aims and ideals of the first board of trustees, responsible for opening Dove Cottage to the public, Stopford Brooke wrote, in 1890:
There is no place, ... which has so many thoughts and memories as this belonging to our poetry; none at least in which they are so closely bound up with the poet and the poems ... In every part of this little place [Wordsworth] has walked with his sister and wife or talked with Coleridge. And it is almost untouched. Why should we not try and secure it, ... for the eternal possession of those who love English poetry all over the world.
Today, around 70,000 people visit Dove Cottage, The Wordworth Museum and Art Gallery in Grasmere, Lake District, Cumbria each year. They can see how the great poet and his family and friends lived during his most productive and brilliant period. Guided tours of the cottage include a commentary on Wordsworth's life, and visitors are told a selection of anecdotes which bring the experience to life. They can enjoy an exhibition about his life in the Museum and view special exhibitions about related subjects in the Art Gallery.
The Wordsworth Trust continues to foster new art and has both a Poet-in-Residence (Owen Sheers is amongst former holders of the post) and an Artist-in-Residence. There are readings of contemporary poetry from the Poet-in-Residence and visiting poets throughout the summer months, along with regular exhibitions of art ranging from Turner and Constable to new, modern artists and photographers throughout the year.
Visiting schools are provided with educational materials and for scholars, it is possible to arrange a visit to the Jerwood Centre which is a centre for research and academic study. Over 90% of all original Wordsworth verse manuscripts are held here, together with around 60,000 other documents, manuscripts and items of artwork.
The Trust also runs a volunteer programme for post-graduates which allows them to experience working in a museum / heritage environment, and so gain some of the skills needed for a career in that field.
The Trust's first Director, up until his death in 2005, was Dr Robert Woof.
- "theconiston: We Are Seven Commune Project". Theconiston.typepad.com. 2005-09-09. Retrieved 2013-01-13.