“Imperfect Notices”: The 1820 Continental Journal of Mary Wordsworth

E. R. HammackBoston College
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 2018), 91-110

Through a close reading of Mary Wordsworth’s 1820 Continental travel journal, this essay challenges her peripheral status in studies of the Wordsworth writing circle. It offers a formalist analysis of the text, demonstrating the qualities and aspects of Mary’s writing that contribute to the importance of her journal in relation to the other literary endeavors of the tour. Mary’s writing, with its elliptical style and panoramic descriptions, reveals a sophisticated and imaginatively creative mind, one that was an equal participant in the coterie of the tour’s writers, including Henry Crabb Robinson and Dorothy Wordsworth. This essay seeks to free the journal from its critical relegation to a mere resource for William Wordsworth’s Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, instead approaching the journal on its own terms. The analysis calls for further consideration of Mary’s journals in relation to contexts of travel writing, romantic narrative, and women’s writing.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]