Spectator Books: when Coleridge met Wordsworth

Aug 07, 2019, 12:24 PM
In this week’s books podcast, we’re getting Romantic. Sam is joined by the writer Adam Nicolson and the artist Tom Hammick to talk about their new book The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, Wordsworth and their Year of Marvels. In it, Adam describes how — inspired by Richard Holmes’s 'footsteps' approach — he attempted to imaginatively inhabit the worlds of Coleridge and Wordsworth in the crucial year in the late 1790s when they lived near each-other in the Quantocks in Somerset. That meant, for him, living in the same landscape, walking the same paths, reliving the struggles with lines of verse in manuscript. It’s a passionate attempt to fully understand the relationship between the two, and the influences that had their issue in Lyrical Ballads, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', 'Kubla Khan' and the ‘Prelude'. The book also contains the woodcuts Tom made from fallen trees where they lived, and which form a complex commentary on Adam’s text and on the texts it traces. Sam asks them to expound on such highbrow issues as: who was the Daddy? Wasn’t Wordsworth a bit of a rotter? And: what about Dot?

Spectator Books is a series of literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith, The Spectator's Literary Editor. Hear past episodes of Spectator Books here.