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THIS little book owes its origin to the fact that,
I with the exception of Professor Shairp's Sketch contained in the preface to the “Tour in Scotland,” no biography or memoir of the subject of it has hitherto been written. Seeing what an important part Miss Wordsworth occupied in influencing the revival of English poetry at the close of the last century, this has frequently been to me a matter of surprise. To the best of my knowledge, she does not even occupy any place in the numerous sketches of famous women which have from time to time appeared. At the same time the references to her in the biographies of her brother and in the reviews of his works are many.
My main object in the present work has been, so far as permissible, to gather together into the form of a Memoir of her life various allusions to Miss Wordsworth, together with such further particulars as might be procurable, and with some reflections to which such a life gives rise. My task has, therefore, been one of a compiler rather than an author.
I acknowledge my great indebtedness to all sources from whence information has been obtained. In addition to the authorities after mentioned, I desire especially to mention the kindness of Dr. Sadler for his permission to reprint the letters of Miss Wordsworth to the late Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson, published in his “ Diary and Reminiscences"; and of Mr. F. W. H. Myers for the like permission to make use of some letters which for the first time appeared in his “Wordsworth.”
However far I have failed in my original design, and however imperfectly I may have performed my self-appointed task of love, it cannot be doubted that no name can more fittingly have a place in female biography than that of Dorothy Wordsworth.