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British Association for Romantic Studies - BARS - The Wordsworth Trust

Welcome to BARS

The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) was set up in 1989 by academics to promote the study of the cultural history of the Romantic period. Since then, BARS has organised eight International conferences at various locations in the UK, has published the BARS Bulletin and Review twice-yearly, and currently has more than 350 members.

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Wordsworth Trust

The Wordsworth Trust - literary centre for student and academic study.

Academic visits for University students

The Wordsworth Trust is focused on developing its relationship with literary and educational institutions. Specifically, we would like to heighten awareness of what we can offer as a literary centre to academic groups.

About the Wordsworth Trust

The Wordsworth Trust (registered charity no. 1066184) is an independent charity established as a living memorial to the life and poetry of William Wordsworth, Britain’s greatest Romantic poet and writer, and his contemporaries. It was founded in 1891 ‘for the eternal possession of those who love English poetry all over the world’.

The Wordsworth Trust holds and conserves one of the world’s great literary and art collections including more than 90% of Wordsworth’s manuscripts, and pictures by famous artists including JMW Turner, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Wright of Derby and Edward Lear.

It has been described as “one of the best independent museums in the UK [with] an enviable reputation throughout the world as the Centre for British Romanticism” (Esmée Fairbairn Foundation) and as “the finest literary museum in the world” (Spectator).

The work of the Trust attracts the support of leading figures in the arts, media and film. To give a recent example, the famous Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellen (who starred as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings) appeared on BBC Radio in early November 2006 to discuss his CD recording of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and other poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, made exclusively for the Wordsworth Trust www.wordsworthshop.co.uk or tel: +44 (015394 35888).

Access to the collections

  • The permenant display in the Wordsworth Museum illustrates the story of the poet’s life with manuscripts, books and pictures. A programme of changing specialexhibitions explores different Romantic themes.
  • The Trust’s website has descriptions of the collections, a searchable database, and details of the changing programme of events the Trust provides throughout the year. Please visit  www.wordsworth.org.uk for more details
  • Research visits to the Jerwood Centre can be made by appointment, and are open to all those who have a research interest

Opened in 2005, the Jerwood Centre houses one of the world’s greatest collections of literature and art. Situated only a few yards from Dove Cottage, the building provides modern, high quality facilities for research, conservation and for academic talks and visits, as well as storing some of the 60,000 manuscripts, books, paintings, drawings and prints when they are not in display in the Wordsworth Museum. Its Reading Room contains a major Romantic library featuring many rare first editions. This was also created in 2004 when we considerably increased our printed book collection, principally through the acquisition of one of the finest collections of Romantic literature still in private hands. The Jerwood Centre has been described by Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, as “the global centre for Wordsworth studies and the study of British Romanticism generally”. Students and scholars from across the world travel to study here.

The Rotunda of the Jerwood Centre at The Wordsworth Trust is a purpose-built space for workshops, seminars and intimate readings.

The Wordsworth Trust also offers a programme of activities varying greatly in subject matter: from poetry workshops to interventionist art, we hope to offer the opportunity for dialogue between disciplines.

The Collection

The Wordsworth Trust's Collection, numbering more than 60,000 items, has been ‘Designated’ by the government as being ‘a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance’. It is the only collection in Cumbria to have this status, and one of only 60 or so such collections in the whole of the United Kingdom. The Collection reflects the fact that, during the Romantic period, the Lake District was a place of great literary and artistic creativity with Wordsworth at its centre - a ‘northern renaissance’ active outside the centres of London and Edinburgh. Altogether, the Collection (many items from which are displayed in the Wordsworth Museum) features original work by over two thousand writers and artists and tells the story of a profound cultural moment in British and world history.

Highlights of the Collection

  • William Wordsworth’s poetry notebooks, containing drafts for many of his greatest poems. Nowhere else can more than 90% of a great writer’s manuscripts be seen in the very place where they were composed
  • Lyrical Ballads (1798) by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the most important and (at the time) radical publications in the history of English Literature, a book that has been described as “the most important volume of poetry ever published in the English language.”
  • First editions of the works of other leading Romantic writers, including Lord Byron, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • The manuscript of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal (1802) describing the daffodils on the shores of Ullswater, which inspired her brother’s most famous poem, I wandered lonely as a cloud
  • The only surviving manuscript of Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, published in 1821. De Quincey was one of the great writers and journalists of the Romantic age and lived at Dove Cottage after Wordsworth
  • A rare three-volume first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published anonymously in 1818, and written when Mary was just 18 years old
  • Ullswater, by J.M.W. Turner (c.1835), a watercolour described by John Ruskin as “the great central work of Turner’s life”
  • Helvellyn, by John Constable, one of nearly 100 watercolour sketches made by the artist during his tour of the Lake District in 1806. This tour was the subject of a major exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum in the summer of 2006. The associated catalogue has been shortlisted for the Berger Prize for British Art History
  • Major oil paintings, watercolours and drawings by the most famous British artists of the 18th & 19th century, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Wright of Derby, Edward Lear, Francis Towne and Joseph Farington

Current Exhibitions

In the Wordsworth Museum
Telling Our Own Story
4 February - 22 July 2007

This exhibition features the lives of women of the Wordsworth family and their friends, told through their own letters, diaries and other belongings. Their concerns were similar to ours: family, health, relationships, daily activities - but how different to ours were their circumstances and responses? Further details

Dante Redicovered: From Blake to Rodin

An Exhibition at the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere
15 August to 18 November 2007. Further details

Guston in Grasmere: The Poem-Pictures

An Exhibition at the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere
Until 2nd September 2007. Further details

Group Prices

We offer a number of different options:

Visit to Dove Cottage and the Museum only. A£5.10, S£4.95, C£3.15
Visit to the Museum only. A£ 5.50 (NO GROUP RATE AVAILABLE)
Visit to Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum, the Jerwood Centre and a talk on a Romantic related subject by a member of our Curatorial staff.

Many thanks for your time - please do not hesitate to contact me for more information

Charlotte Brown
Marketing and Bookings Officer
The Wordsworth Trust
Dove Cottage, Grasmere LA22 9SH
Tel 015394 35544 Fax 015394 63508
Web: www.wordsworth.org.uk
e-mail: c.brown@wordsworth.org.uk
Direct phone 015394 63512

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