British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe

Works are on display in Cumbria connected to a collaboration between Dr David Higgins (School of English), the Wordsworth Trust and local schools from Kendal and Leeds.


Dr David Higgins, Associate Professor in English Literature, has undertaken the first major investigation of environmental catastrophe in Romantic writing.

Dr Higgins’ research makes an innovative contribution not only to literary scholarship on the period, transforming the understanding of Romantic ecologies and their legacy, but also to the cultural history of climate change and the field of disaster studies. For project details, go to the British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe website.

An important aspect of the project was to engage communities with the importance of weather, climate and environmental catastrophe to the lives and works of the Romantics; to encourage reflection on the role of weather/climate in shaping our experience of the world; and to provoke discussions of present-day and historical climate change.

A resulting collaboration between Dr Higgins and the Wordsworth Trust has been producing exciting and ambitious activities with schools from Kendal and Leeds and community groups across Cumbria.

Wordsworth Trust learning and community outreach staff have commissioned writers, poets, artists and photographers, and together have worked with groups and schools to reflect on how climate change is affecting their lives. Some of the resulting work is displayed at the Wordsworth Museum alongside a jointly curated exhibition with artist Alison Critchlow. 

Weather Words (until 28 August)
A jointly curated exhibition between Wordsworth Trust’s curators and artist Alison Critchlow. The exhibition examines and interprets a number of manuscripts from the Trust’s archives including two surviving notebooks of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journal, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ode to Rain, written in an upstairs room of Dove Cottage whilst Coleridge was waiting for the rain to stop, and William Havell’s watercolour The beck at Ambleside after much rain.

Romanticism, weather, and climate: Schools project display (until 28 August)
The British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe project has given the Wordsworth Trust the opportunity to expand its work with schools beyond Cumbria into Leeds. The Trust has, over several months, been working with four participating schools - Old Hutton Primary School, and The Queen Katherine Secondary school, Kendal (families from The Queen Katherine School were affected by the floods of winter 2015/16); and Strawberry Fields Primary School, and Little London Primary School, Leeds.

For more information, visit the Wordsworth website

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