poetry, writing

cathy & heathcliff avant la lettre

“She was never beautiful. Her extreme thinness, weathered skin, the effect of a lifetime of weekly, sometimes daily, migraines and the gradual loss of her teeth meant that she aged prematurely, looking 20 years older than she was. It was her energy rather than her appearance that appealed, and in particular her responsiveness that was valued and praised.”

– Frances Wilson on Dorothy Wordsworth, poet William Wordsworth’s devoted sister, who lived with William all her life as something of a second wife-figure, in the Times Online. Taken from her new book THE BALLAD OF DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, reviewed here by Miranda Seymour, which comes out March 6th. Seymour writes:

“Such was their closeness that Wilson suggests Dorothy and William may have been the inspiration for Emily Brontë’s Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Although this may seem a little farfetched – particularly the Heathcliff element – Dorothy in her youth certainly embodied all the wildness of the heroine of Wuthering Heights. As described by de Quincey, she was a pagan goddess with “a gipsy tan”, and “an impassioned intellect”.