An “imperfect” Model of Authorship in Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal

  • Heather Meek (Université de Montréal)


This essay explores Dorothy Wordsworth’s collaborative, “pluralist” model of selfhood and authorship as it is elaborated in her Grasmere journal (1800-03). Nature and community, for her, are extensions of the self rather than (as they often are for her brother William) external forces to be subsumed by the self of the solitary artist. This model, however, is the site of ambivalence and conflict, and is therefore “imperfect” – a word Wordsworth herself uses to qualify the “summary” she believes her journal as a whole provides. It is “imperfect” not because it is inferior, weak, or deficient in some way, but because it is riddled with tension and inconsistency. Wordsworth embraces processes of collaborative creativity, but she also expresses – largely through her narrations of illness – dissatisfaction with such processes, and she sometimes finds relief in her solitary, melancholic musings. In these ways, she at once subverts, reworks, and reinforces conventional, ‘solitary genius’ paradigms of authorship.

Keywords: Dorothy Wordsworth, authorship, collaborative authorship, pluralist authorship, William Wordsworth, Grasmere Journal

How to Cite:

Meek, H., (2015) “An “imperfect” Model of Authorship in Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal”, Authorship 4(2). doi:

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Published on
01 Dec 2015
Peer Reviewed