Andrew Bennett challenges the popular conception of Wordsworth as a writer who didn't so much write poetry as compose it aloud or in his head (usually while walking, and preferably while ascending mountains). The act and idea of writing is in fact central to the themes and to the rhetorical texture of Wordsworth's poetry. This wide-ranging study considers various aspects of Wordsworth's compositional practice, including questions of revision and dictation, of monumental inscription and graffiti, of talking and thinking, and of the poet's own theory of composition, and examines the implications of a critical tradition that erroneously assumes that Wordsworth employed exclusively 'oral' modes of composition. For Wordsworth, acts of writing were important dimensions of his poetry and indeed of his sense of personal and poetic identity. Bennett contends that a sustained attention to the question of writing in Wordsworth produces compelling readings of the major poems.
Andrew Bennett is Professor of English at the University of Bristol.