07 April 2020
This month the Isle of Man Post Office celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, one of Britain’s best-known romantic poets of all time, by releasing a six stamp collection.
The new stamps attempt to capture the essence and the appearance of the Island at the time of Wordsworth’s visit to the Island in 1833, and are presented through period paintings chosen in relation to the Manx scenes discussed in Wordsworth’s sonnets that were inspired by the Isle of Man.
Although synonymous with The Lake District, William and Dorothy Wordsworth were strongly associated with the Isle of Man and Manx locations were featured in ‘The Itinerary Poems of 1833’.
William himself only spent four days on the Island during July 1833, as part of his journey to the Scottish islands with his eldest son John and old friend Henry Crabb Robinson. He expressed an interest in ascending Snaefell and visited Ballasalla, describing it as ‘a little wood-embosomed village by the side of a stream upon which stands the ruined walls of an old Abbey’. A water-colour of Rushen Abbey, painted during the 1830s and given by William Words-worth to Thomas Cookson, has latterly been gifted to Tynwald by his descendants.
Wordsworth also spent time in the Castletown area and King William’s College before heading towards South Barrule. He expressed much delight with Peel Bay and confessed that on the whole he liked the Isle of Man better than he had expected, vowing unsuccessfully, to return with his wife. He produced ten sonnets about the Island, although one was written by Captain Henry Hutchinson, with one in particular being dedicated to Sir William Hillary (founder of the forerunner of the RNLI).
Extracts from some of Wordsworth’s most famous works are featured on each of the six stamps which form the focal point of this collection.
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