Recovering Dorothy

Polly Atkin

Polly Atkin is a multi-award-winning writer, essayist and poet based in Grasmere, Cumbria, where she has worked and researched at Dove Cottage, home of the Wordsworths. Her first poetry collection, Basic Nest Architecture (Seren: 2017), won a Northern Wrtier’s Award and was followed by a third pamphlet, With Invisible Rain (New Walk: 2018). Her first pamphlet, bone song (Aussteiger, 2008), was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award, 2009, and second, Shadow Dispatches (Seren, 2013), won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, 2012. Recovering Dorothya biography of Dorothy Wordsworth, was published by Saraband in 2021.

Recovering Dorothy

The hidden life of Dorothy Wordsworth

by Polly Atkin

  • RRP: £9.99 (print) / £6.99 (ebook)
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781913393175
  • Ebook ISBN: 9781913393182

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Now also available on Perlego DOROTHY WORDSWORTH is well known as the author of the Alfoxden and Grasmere Journals (1798–1803) and as the sister of the poet William Wordsworth. She is widely praised for her nature writing and is often remembered as a woman of great physical vitality. Less well known, however, is that Dorothy became seriously ill in 1829 and was mostly housebound for the last twenty years of her life. Her personal letters and unpublished journals from this time paint a portrait of a compassionate and creative woman who made her sickroom into a garden for herself and her pet robin and who finally grew to call herself a poet. They also reveal how vital Dorothy was to her brother’s success, and the closeness they shared as siblings. By re-examining her life through the perspective of her illness, this biography allows Dorothy Wordsworth to step out from her brother’s shadow and back into her own life story.

Prizes and awards

LONGLISTED Barbellion Prize 2022

REVIEWS OF Recovering Dorothy

“The Wordsworths provide … a treasure trove for authors, but this unusual book about Dorothy Wordsworth … is all about her illness. I’ve never seen that subject covered before.” Hunter Davies, Cumbria Life

“Dorothy Wordsworth’s life is not worth less when, as Atkin reveals through scholarship and poetry, her ‘keen eye’ is ‘turned not just on the world around her, but on the world inside.’” Iona Glen

“Polly Atkin argues for Dorothy’s place in the writing of illness … A narrowing world, she reminds us, need not lead to a narrowing of the self.” Guardian

“A timely reappraisal …told with great sensitivity and … a grounded perspective of Dorothy’s everyday life in the Lakeland landscape.” Cumbria Life, Book of the Month

“A fresh, often deeply affecting reappraisal … breaks new ground … The restraint and spareness of Atkin’s writing is extremely powerful … almost leap[ing] off the page.” European Romantic Review