Writing in a Relative’s Shadow

Wordsworth: a family name that was also a brand. But what might it have been like to be a writer closely related to William? For that matter, how might it be to make your way as a lesser-known writer in any famous literary family? Could there possibly be more than one Coleridge when there was a Samuel Taylor? This exhibit explores what it was like to be related to two of the greatest poets of the Romantic era. In looking back on the lives of Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge (Samuel Taylor Coleridge's son), these artifacts show that popular authorship at the time could include multiple facets such as melancholy, strained family relationships, and being thrust unwillingly into the public eye. This exhibit case was created to show the mixed effects of being a famous author on family members of the same profession. Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge’s experiences with being related to famous authors must have been complicated, especially in regards to their own work being simultaneously recognized (or not) and compared to their relations’. 

"Excursion Up Scawfell Pike”: 1818 Manuscript
Harriet Martineau's, A Complete Guide to the English Lakes, 1855
Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge: The Poetics of Relationship, 2012

This display case assembled by Benjamin Denton, Kori Dryer, and Sarah Safsten.