The Ballad of DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, A Life by Frances Wilson

The Ballad of DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, A Life by Frances Wilson, (2009). This is the biography of Dorothy Wordsworth, who was the sister of the poet William Wordsworth, and they had a most unusual relationship. She was undoubtably in love with her brother!, and when he married she lived with him and his wife Mary Hutchinson, who was a childhood friend of them both. Dorothy is described by the writer and opium addict Thomas De Quincey as “the very wildest… person I have ever known,” since she was not your typical spinster. She was the very center of her brother’s life, as they had an intense bond. Dorothy had a dramatic collapse on the day her brother married, and stopped writing in her journals days later. This book contains her journal entries, and is not my most favorite reading material- journal entries are so one sided, but the author of this book has plenty of explaining to do in between entries.

Dorothy is described as “a small woman under 5 feet tall with a wiry frame. She was never beautiful, and the loss of her teeth by the time she turned forty, together with her extreme thinness, her weathered skin, and the exhausting nature of her lifestyle, meant that she aged prematurely, looking 20 years older than she was. Dorothy seems to be the perfect picture of a hyperactive person. In her youth she is described as “wild and startling”, and as “all fire and ardor” by De Quincey. She is described as having “wild eyes” with “shooting lights” in them. She must have been a very dramatic and eccentric person to know. She acted as a secretary for her brother since he detested writing himself and merely dictated his words to Dorothy. Being a writer in her own right, her words were often borrowed by her brother and other writer friends.

NOTE: This book was BORING! I couldn’t bear to read more than a few chapters plus skim through parts plus the ending and look at the photos in the middle of the book.


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