Monday, 8 September 2014

Wordsworth gift

In recent years Auckland bibliophile and historian John Webster has been a generous donor to Sir George Grey Special Collections. Among the items he has gifted to the library is an 1845 edition of 'The poems of William Wordsworth'. The book is in superb condition for its age, but what makes it of particular interest is the hand-written inscription on the second leaf, which reads: “Anna Hosykns from William Wordsworth, Westminster Cloisters, 15th April 1847.”


Ref: Second leaf inscription from 'William Wordsworth, 'The poetical works...' London: Edward Moxon, 1845.'
Sir George Grey Special Collections.
The writing matches other surviving examples from the poet’s pen. Biographies and Wordsworth’s published letters verify that he was acquainted with Anna Hoskyns.

Anna’s maiden name was Ricketts. Born in 1814, she belonged to a family that became part of Wordsworth’s circle in the late 1830s. She was among the group of friends that accompanied the poet and his daughter Dora on a three-day excursion to the Duddon Valley in October 1838. She was his houseguest at Rydal Mount in the Lake District in October 1841 and again in June and July 1842.

Anna is fondly mentioned in a letter that Wordsworth and his wife, Mary, wrote to their close friend Isabella Fenwick on 28 July 1842: “Our love of her encreases every day – and I cannot but feel she has been thoroughly happy with us – Then she is such a useful little thing! She is ready to help with her pen, her dear voice and in every way.”

Ref: Watercolour from 'William Wordsworth. The prelude. Grasmere: The Wordsworth Trust, 2007.'
Sir George Grey Special Collections.
Wordsworth notes later in the same letter: “This morning I conducted dear Anna to the point opposite the higher division of the high waterfall of  Rydal, of which you must have heard me speak. I left her there drawing. She has done some very pretty things in and about our Village which will be delightful Memorials to take away with her.”

Anna Ricketts married London barrister Chandos Wren-Hoskyns, a widower with a small daughter, on 9 July 1846. She called on the Wordsworths in April 1877 when they were staying in London with William’s nephew, Christopher Wordsworth, the Canon of Westminster.

Mary Wordsworth records in a letter to her daughter-in-law, Fanny, dated 20 April 1847: “We have seen Anna Ricketts that was and her Husband also; she is and looks quite well and happy. She brought with her her Stepdaughter, a very engaging Child.”

View examples of letters, illustrations and poems written by Wordsworth and his contemporaries in the online version of The Romantics exhibition, held at Sir George Grey Special Collections earlier this year.

Written by: Iain Sharp, Sir George Grey Special Collections.

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