Dora Wordsworth

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Dorothy "Dora" Wordsworth[1] (16 August 1804 – 9 July 1847) was the only surviving daughter of William Wordsworth (1770–1850), major Romantic poet and British Poet Laureate. Her babyhood inspired Wordsworth to write "Address To My Infant Daughter"[2] in her honour. As an adult, she is further immortalised by him in the 1828 poem "The Triad",[3] along with Edith Southey[4] and Sara Coleridge, daughters of her father's fellow Lake Poets. In 1843, at the age of 39 Dora Wordsworth married Edward Quillinan, against her father's wishes. Throughout her life, she formed intense romantic attachments to both genders, the most significant being her friendship with Maria Jane Jewsbury.[4] Another close friend was Maria Kinnaird, adoptive daughter of Richard "Conversation" Sharp and the future wife of Thomas Drummond. Dora and Maria were friends from their teenage years and some of their correspondence has survived [5]

Described by her aunt and namesake Dorothy Wordsworth as "at times very beautiful",[6] Dora was devoted to her father and a significant influence on his poetry. Their relationship was particularly close, with Coleridge's son Hartley describing how she "almost adored" him in an 1830 letter.[7] However, Dora also had literary abilities of her own, publishing a travel journal. Sara Coleridge complained after Dora's death that her father's demands on her "frustrated a real talent".[8]

Dora Wordsworth died of tuberculosis at her parents' home, and is buried in the graveyard of St Oswald's Church, Grasmere, Cumbria along with her parents and siblings, aunt Sarah Hutchinson and Hartley Coleridge, son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.[9] After her death, her distraught father (who had already lost two of his children to illness), planted hundreds of daffodils in her memory in a field beside St Mary's Church, Rydal.[10] The site, Dora's Field, where daffodils are still cultivated today is now owned by the National Trust.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "England, Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (accessed 23 Aug 2012), Dorothy Wordsworth, 16 Sep 1804; citing reference , FHL microfilm 97368.
  2. ^ Address To My Infant Daughter at bartleby.com
  3. ^ Furr, Derek, The Perfect Match: Wordsworth's The Triad and Coleridge's Garden of Boccaccio In Context
  4. ^ a b Jones, Katherine, Introduction to the Passionate Sisterhood
  5. ^ MS University Library, Davis, California.
    also, reproduced with permission in Knapman, D. - Conversation Sharp - The Biography of a London Gentleman, Richard Sharp (1759–1835), in Letters, Prose and Verse. [Private Publication, 2004). Available at British Library.
  6. ^ Dorothy Wordsworth to Jane Marshall, letter dated 19 December 1809, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Ed. Ernest de Selincourt. 2 parts. Part 1: The Middle Years, 1806–1811. Revised by Mary Moorman. Part 2: The Middle Years, 1812–1820. Revised by Mary Moorman and Alan G. Hill.
  7. ^ Hartley Coleridge, Letters, 112 (30 August 1830).
  8. ^ Introduction to Letters of Dora Wordsworth, 11. The travel journal is Journal of a Few Months' Residence in Portugal, and Glimpses of the South of Spain, 2 vols. (London: Edward Moxon, 1847).
  9. ^ Poets' Graves, William Wordsworth
  10. ^ St Mary's Church, Rydal Archived 9 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Dora's Field with picture Archived 10 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.