Wordsworth, Jonathan 1932-2006

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WORDSWORTH, Jonathan 1932-2006
(Jonathan Fletcher Wordsworth)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 28, 1932, in London, England; died June 21, 2006. Educator and author. The great-great-great nephew of poet William Wordsworth, Wordsworth was a renowned scholar of his ancestor's verses. After compulsory service in the British military, he graduated with first-class honors from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1955. He was working on his graduate thesis when he was invited to become tutorial fellow at Exeter College. The offer was so good that Wordsworth left his studies for Exeter. He remained on the faculty as a fellow and lecturer in English literatureuntil 1980, when he moved to St. Catherine's College until his retirement. During his early years at Exeter, he was teaching poetry when he discovered that a different version of William Wordsworth's "Ruined Cottage" existed. Locating and transcribing it, he published it in his The Music of Humanity: A Critical Study of Wordsworth's "Ruined Cottage," Incorporating Texts from a Manuscript of 1799-1800 (1969), along with commentary that made the book a landmark study. Already a trustee of the Wordsworth Trust, for which he would serve as chair from 1976 to 2002 and then as president, Wordsworth would publish original and edited texts on his ancestor throughout his career, as well as works on the Romantic poets in general. Among his most highly praised works is The Prelude: The Four Texts (1798, 1799, 1805, 1850), by William Wordsworth, which he edited. Wordsworth scholarship is a difficult specialization, as the Romantic poet was guilty of rewriting his verses many times. The changes were often for the worse, in the opinion of his descendant, who became one of the most respected experts on the matter. Also the academic director and then director of the Wordsworth Summer Conference in Grasmere, England, the scholar would publish many respected tomes, including William Wordsworth: The Borders of Vision (1982), The Light That Never Was: Studies in the Romantic Imagination (1988), Visionary Gleam: Forty Books from the Romantic Period (1993), and The New Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry (2002), which he edited with his wife, Jessica.



Times (London, England), July 7, 2006, p. 62.