2021 at Wordsworth House and Garden

A portrait of William Wordsworth in middle age

Wild child, disillusioned radical, impoverished artist, disciplinarian patriarch, environmentalist or elder statesman: which was the real William Wordsworth?

2020 marked 250 years since the birth of the boy who grew up to be one of the world’s best-loved nature poets and a pivotal figure behind the creation of the National Trust and the global conservation movement. 2021 marks the birth of his sister, a talented writer in her own right and his muse and co-collaborator.

As the birthplace and childhood home he shared with his parents, brothers and sister Dorothy, Wordsworth House and Garden has a year of special events planned.

An emotive exhibition, ‘The Child is Father of the Man’, explores how William was shaped by his wild, outdoor upbringing and the trauma that all-too-soon shattered this idyllic life.

It includes Dorothy’s tiny bonnet, which was painstakingly hand sewn – most likely by their mother Ann – in anticipation of Dorothy’s birth on Christmas Day 1771. It is the sole item to remain from the siblings’ childhood, making it especially precious.

No one knows how this fragile artefact survived Ann and her husband John’s early deaths and came to be passed down for almost 250 years into the safe hands of its current owners, the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, but it appears that Ann may still be taking an interest in it.

When our normally down-to-earth seamstress was stitching a handling replica in her work room at home recently, she says William’s mother appeared in front of her!

Alongside insights from renowned Wordsworth expert Kathleen Jones and multi-award-winning poet Helen Mort, evocative photographs by Simon Mooney focus on the ephemeral nature of childhood objects and what their loss or preservation means to us in the modern world.

‘The Child is Father of the Man’ is open daily except Thursday and Friday until 7 November, 10am–4pm – admission free with entry to the house and garden.

We also have some very special evening talks. Booking is essential. Contact 01900 824805 or email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk to buy tickets. 

Friday 10 September, 7pm

Join us for an evening of performance poetry with Rowan McCabe, poet in residence 2020, and Rob Heron for some rag-time honkey-tonk! £7.50 including glass of wine. Email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or ring 01900 824805 to book tickets.

In Wordsworth’s footsteps

Thursday 16 September, 7pm
Award-winning poet and novelist Helen Mort talks about William Wordsworth, walking and creativity and reads from her own work.  £7.50 including glass of wine. Email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or ring 01900 824805 to book tickets.

Sister of my soul

Thursday 25 September, 7.00pm 
Torn apart as children, when William Wordsworth was reunited with his sister Dorothy, she became the centre of his world. Wordsworth expert Kathleen Jones discusses the unique sibling relationship that shaped the poet and the man. Please note this talk will be hosted at The Kirkgate Centre in Cockermouth. Cost £7.50 email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or ring 01900 824805 to book tickets.