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date: 21 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Far from being a solitary bard, Wordsworth was surrounded by friends: his work is rooted in friendship, collaboration, and affection. This essay explores the importance of his literary friendships, well-known and otherwise. Using letters, biography, and close readings of work ranging from Descriptive Sketches and Lyrical Ballads to The Prelude, it analyses the significance of friendship to, and within, his work. The essay shows the formative importance of Coleridge’s relationship with Wordsworth, which cannot be underestimated, but from schooldays onwards, Wordsworth had a wide-ranging network of friends who helped shape his reading and writing practices. To De Quincey, Wordsworth was (an often slightly irritated) mentor, whereas his relationship with Walter Scott was one of mutual veneration. The friendship with Sir George and Lady Beaumont shows how carefully Wordsworth negotiated patronage and affection. The essay investigates these different faces of Wordsworth the friend and demonstrates the significance of friendship, practically and thematically, in his work.

Keywords: friendship, relationship, Coleridge, collaboration, network, influence, patronage, affection

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