The descendants of William Wordsworth have postponed the planned award ceremony and prizegiving for young poets in Cumbria.
They have been thrilled with the number – and quality – of poems submitted from schools across the county for this eighth annual event.
Youngsters were asked to write poems on the subject of “Milestones” to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth.
The young poets, their parents and teachers were due to attend an award ceremony at Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home, in May.
Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet’s great great great great grandson, has written to all who submitted their work to explain that the winners will be announced at a postponed ceremony later in the year. The house has now been closed to the public during the current health crisis.
“We always love welcoming the young writers and their families for the presentation ceremony,” he said. “We are very impressed with the standard of entries sent in this year and we look forward to meeting all the young poets in happier times.”
Visitors love coming to look around the house and gardens at Rydal Mount.
But this year we have special events planned that will allow you to come and spend time in the house, listen to talks, and even do some work of your own here.
Next month we launch a series of informative talks and discussions, starting with Muriel Strachan who returns on April 14 returns to talk about Wordsworth’s children. She will explore the lives of his children and how growing up with the Poet as their father shaped his surviving children’s evolution as adults. Her son, Professor John Strachan, will discuss Wordsworth’s Family Memorials – the elegiac verse for the children.
On May 24 we welcome Dr Jessica Fay who will look at the fascinating discourse between William Wordsworth and Sir George Beaumont about aspects of culture and creativity. Wordsworth is more often associated with rural folk and the Lakeland fells than with polite society and picture galleries but he described his friendship with Sir George Beaumont as one of the ‘blessings’ of his life.
Beaumont was an artist, patron, and co-founder of the National Gallery; for almost 25 years, he and Wordsworth exchanged ideas about poetry, painting, exhibitions, the theatre, and gardening. This talk will explore some of the ways they influenced each other and introduce paintings Beaumont produced to accompany Wordsworth’s poetry.
Dr Fay is the editor of The Letters of Sir George and Lady Beaumont to William and Dorothy Wordsworth (2021) and author of Wordsworth’s Monastic Inheritance: Poetry, Place, and the Sense of Community (2018).
And for a hands-on experience, workshops in using an unusual photographic technique involving tea and red wine are to be held here at the house. Award-winning photographer Chris Routledge will teach sessions in the process of cyanotype photo printing. And the workshops are open to all, novice and expert camera users.
The first workshop is on March 28. A second, on May 9, will examine printing and toning. This, says Chris, is for those who want to go beyond blue, and bring other shades to their prints. “We’ll begin by making some test prints before learning how to bleach and tone them using widely available everyday ingredients, including tea and red wine. After some experimenting we shall end the day by producing our own unique finished prints.”
Later in the year, on September 7, we have a visit from Dr Penny Bradshaw, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Cumbria. Her lecture will consider Victorian poetic responses to Wordsworth immediately following his death, including Matthew Arnold’s Memorial Verses, before offering an account of how later poets – such as W.H. Auden and Norman Nicholson – negotiate with a Wordsworthian perspective, particularly in their own engagement with the Cumbrian landscape.
There’s also a new book out shortly, and we are expecting a visit from the author later in the year. Andrew Wordsworth has written Well-Kept Secrets: The Story of William Wordsworth. This uses poetry as a starting point to explore Wordsworth’s many contradictions and his constant struggle to come to terms with them. Watch for announcements about the date of his lecture here.
We are also planning an afternoon on croquet on the lawn later in the summer. But the house and gardens are open seven days a week from April 3 (until then we’re closed Monday and Tuesday) so you can come and look around at your leisure.
It was a very special day at Westminster Abbey.
With flowers from both Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage, a wreath was laid by Susan Andrew, gr-gr-gr granddaughter of William Wordsworth, and her granddaughter Phoebe (great granddaughter x 5) at Wordsworth’s statue in Poets’ Corner.
Antony Wordsworth gave a fascinating account of what such a legacy means for all descendents of such an eminent forebear aka within the family as, variously “WW”, “The Poet”, and “Great Grandfather William”
Sir Drummond Bone discussed Wordsworth and his importance and value today, particularly in light of the Reimagining Wordsworth project, and then read out Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s moving address about how Wordsworth continues to influence him.
And Simon Bennie, Susan’s son and Phoebe’s father read “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”.
It was a unique blend of an intimate family occasion, combined with a sense of universal cultural significance, and followed the wonderful experience of the Abbey’s evensong.
Many friends came from Cumbria and elsewhere to made it such a memorable experience.
The wreath was made by our Rydal Mount guide Clara Li-Dunne.