The Grasmere Journals | Study Guide

Dorothy Wordsworth

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The Grasmere Journals | Book 4, 1803 | Summary



In January Dorothy writes an entry to catch up on some days she neglected to write about at the end of the previous year. She had gone to Keswick and spent New Year's with the Coleridge family, who paid a visit to Grasmere in exchange in early January. On January 11, they received a letter from Coleridge who was in "bad spirits." After this Dorothy wrote the word Canaries. Dorothy resolved to keep her journal more faithfully and legibly. On January 16 she went out, despite the cold weather, to get some gingerbread for William, who had a craving for it. Days later she baked some of her own.


January 16 is the last entry in The Grasmere Journals, despite Dorothy's resolution just days before to write more regularly in it. In the following year, the first of William and Mary's children were born, and much of Dorothy's time was engaged in helping care for the babies, as she had done in her uncle's home in her youth. She did keep more journals in her life, however, including journals from 1824–35 when the family moved to Rydal Mount and a travel journal of a trip to Scotland.

The mysterious word Canaries after the note about Coleridge being in bad spirits most likely means the "Canary Islands," off the west coast of Africa. This probably refers to his desire to try a warmer climate for his health. In 1804 he took a post as the governor of Malta, an island off the southern coast of Sicily. His temperament proved to be ill suited for the role though, and he returned after only two years.

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