Government Spy and Poet Laureate?

The roadside daffodils each spring remind us of Cockermouth's links with Wordsworth, one of England's greatest lyric poets. An entire industry has grown up at Grasmere based on the Victorian poet's cultural legacy.

His birthplace in Cockermouth almost followed the fate of Cockermouth Old Hall (Demolition by the overzealous planners of the fifties) But fortunately it was not turned into a bus parking area for the town and is safe under the protective wings of the National Trust. After years of being closed more often than it was open, Wordsworth House is to become the focal point for a Georgian themed tourism boost for Cockermouth.

Kate Hilton the NT custodian says Wordsworth House will become a living example of everyday life in a town house of the 18th century, with actors and model dressed in the clothing from Wordsworth's day.

Cockermouth's Wordsworth revival comes as filming goes on for a new film "Pandaemonium" is filmed in the Lakes about Wordsworth and Coleridge. Also as a new biography on Wordsworth by Juliet Barker is published by Penguin books. The book may cast light on claims that while a young man Wordsworth had radical leanings, later in his life he was even accused of acting as an unofficial agent for the government.

The world's most important collection of William Wordsworth's manuscripts and letters is to be housed in a futuristic extension to the poet's cottage in the Lake District, after the Heritage lottery Fund in October 2001 announced a substantial grant. The 2.25m donation will be used to build an outhouse in the modern car park of Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home from 1799 to 1808. In his study at the stone cottage, Wordsworth composed the Prelude and entertained friends such as the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the writer Thomas De Quincey.

The Wordsworth Trust opened Dove Cottage to the public 20 years ago this week, but its collection of 50,000 manuscripts, letters and paintings by the Romantic poets and their artist friends had grown too big for the site. The collection includes 30,000 Wordsworth manuscripts, letters describing his experiences of the French Revolution, and the diaries of his sister, Dorothy. There are also 4,000 manuscripts by writers of the time, including working versions of several poems by Coleridge, and 10,000 paintings and watercolours, including works by Constable, Gainsborough and Turner.

William's brother John, who lived for a time at Whitehaven met death at sea. The Earl of Abergavenny was one of the largest British East Indiamen built, captained by William Wordsworth's brother John. Disaster struck in 1805 when the ship went down just 1.5 miles from land, with many crew lost.
DS