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The Cornell Wordsworth Collection

Cornell’s famed Wordsworth Collection includes the earliest known portrait of the poet, painted by William Shuter in 1798 when Wordsworth was only 28 years old.

Cornell Library’s William Wordsworth Collection is an internationally prominent collection, second in size only to that of Dove Cottage in England. The Cornell Wordsworth Collection offers nearly comprehensive book holdings on Wordsworth, Coleridge, and related authors. The collection also includes letters, manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, documents, and objects by, to, belonging to, or about Wordsworth and his family. Books by and about Wordsworth include all editions of his published works, books from his personal library, and works on the Lake District. Of major importance among the manuscripts are 243 letters of Wordsworth and 79 letters of Coleridge. Also worthy of special notice are a substantial number of literary manuscripts of both poets, a large number of letters written to and about them by their friends and acquaintances, and several albums of miscellanies, most notably that kept by Joseph Cottle of Bristol from 1796. Also included are manuscripts by Sara Hutchinson, Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary Wordsworth, Thomas De Quincey, Robert Southey, Lord Byron, and John Keats. Please see the guide to such manuscripts and documents.

The Cornell Wordsworth Collection also contains several thousand facsimile copies of manuscripts by or related to Wordsworth obtained from many sources but especially from the Wordsworth archives at Dove Cottage Library and from the manuscript collections of Jonathan Wordsworth.

The Cornell Wordsworth Collection had its beginning in the St. John Wordsworth Collection, which was acquired in 1925 and represents forty years of devoted collecting by Mrs. Cynthia Morgan St. John of Ithaca, New York. Mrs. St. John built on broad foundations, admitting to her library of Wordsworth any anthology that contained some of his poems, any volume that contained even a few significant comments on the poet, any that contained a tribute or parody of him, any book of near or remote association, any work on the English Lake Country, and any work by or about Coleridge or members of his family. Since 1925, Cornell has added steadily to St. John’s thousand or so books and manuscripts.

Cornell University is the editorial home of the Cornell Wordsworth Edition. Under the general direction of Cornell Professor Emeritus Stephen M. Parrish, the Cornell Wordsworth is a series of more than 20 published volumes that provide, for the first time, a complete and accurate record of variant readings, from Wordsworth’s earliest drafts to his final lifetime (or posthumous) publication.

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