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Dorothy Wordsworth

Dorothy Mae Ann Wordsworth was an English author, poet and diarist.

Halifax town centre in the 18th century

One of Halifax's lesser-known literary connections is that of Dorothy Wordsworth. The connection of William Wordsworth and his devoted sister to the Lake District, mainly Grasmere, is well known. Though, Dorothy was no stranger to Halifax also.

When Dorothy was six, in 1778, her mother Anne died suddenly. She was sent to her mother's cousin, Elizabeth Threlkeld, whose home was a draper's shop near the Old Cock Hotel. She lived there for nine years, attending a private school at Blackwall and Northgate End Unitarian Chapel on Sundays. Later she was sent to stay with William and Dorothy Cookson in Penrith. This experience only served to deepen her fond memories of her Halifax sojourn.

After leaving the town, she often came back for visits and in 1794 her brother William ca me with her. By this time 'Aunt' Threlkeld had married William Rawson and had moved to Mill House in Triangle. The Wordsworths stayed for nine months, over Christmas and Dorothy’s 22nd birthday.

More close friends from her Halifax childhood were daughters of the Pollard family, who had moved to Ovenden Hall. Jane Pollard's wedding provided the chance of another visit, this time with another of her four brothers, Christopher.

There are records of three other visits. In 1807, she came with William and his wife, Mary, to Savile Green, where the Rawsons had moved. She made another visit in 1816, staying for five months. The last time we know she came back was in 1818. Each visit was a busy round of meeting her old friends in homes across the Halifax district.

The image shows Halifax town centre as Dorothy would have known it. Part of John Moore's 'Map of the Town and Township of Halifax' 1797. It can be seen in the Central Reference Library.

For more on Dorothy Wordsworth, enter "Dorothy Wordsworth" as a 'quick search' term in the library catalogue:

Online library catalogue

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