The BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship

The BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship

The BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship supports an early career researcher who is not in permanent employment to spend a month in residence at the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere.  The Trust is centred around Dove Cottage, the Wordsworths’ home between 1799 and 1808, where William Wordsworth wrote most of his greatest poetry and Dorothy wrote her Grasmere journals.  Dove Cottage opened to visitors in 1891, and the Trust celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first day of opening on 27th July 2016.  The first museum opened in 1935, coinciding with the bequest of the Wordsworth family archive to the Trust from Gordon Graham Wordsworth.  The Trust collection has grown to 65,000 books, manuscripts and works of art, but at its heart remains the manuscript poetry, prose and letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

At present, the Trust is embarking on an exciting new Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project leading up to the commemoration of Wordsworth’s 250th birthday on 7 April 2020.  It is an audience-driven project, seeking to raise awareness and change public perceptions of Wordsworth’s life and work.  The project will see onsite developments, such as the redesigning and extension of the present museum, alongside an extensive programme of engagement and activities within Cumbria and beyond.  The Trust will be seeking to diversify existing audiences, and extend current work promoting the wellbeing agenda.  In other words, the Trust is working actively to make Wordsworth’s legacies accessible and to continue his own wish to see his poetry help people ‘to see, to think and feel’.

The Trust and BARS welcome submissions from applicants whose research interests will help the Trust to re-imagine Wordsworth.  The fellowship provides an opportunity to become familiar with existing audience engagement work (both onsite and offsite, gaining experience of duties that are audience related) and to create a plan for an activity that will engage new audiences.  This can be for an audience of the Fellow’s choice and will use the collections to stimulate an interest and develop understanding of the poet’s work.  The Fellow receives advice and training from the Curatorial and Learning team, led by Jeff Cowton (Curator and Head of Learning).  The Fellow’s chosen activity can be based in the gallery, delivered within a workshop setting, or conducted online – whatever they think works best for the audience in question. The fellowship also provides opportunities for successful applicants to develop their own research.

The fellowship provides on-site self-catering accommodation for one month, as well as £100 towards travel expenses.  All applicants must be members of BARS.  Deadlines for applications are announced each year via the BARS mailbase, on the BARS Blog and using Facebook and Twitter.

The inaugural BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellow was Brandon Chao-Chi Yen, who took up his fellowship at the end of January 2017.  He discusses his experience and his exhibition on Wordsworth’s flowers in this post for the Wordsworth Trust’s blog.