The Folio Wordsworth

Prompted by a comment yesterday from Anne of Something Over Tea I have today scanned sample pages from

The poems speak for themselves. Nicholas Roe’s introduction is informative and helpful.

Peter Reddick also designed the cover boards, and

decorated the pages with fine bucolic engravings, as fitted the poet.

Including pages of explanatory notes this volume contains almost 500 large format pages.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; Lionnaise potatoes; carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and runner beans, with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2022, from a bottle Jackie had bought for me for my post operative return, yet which I hadn’t been able to open until now.


During the power cut yesterday evening I finished reading

being the fourth of Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novels.

I have to say I found this one rather ponderous in its political and philosophical passages, giving the impression that the periodical pattern of its publication promoted such prolixity.

Trollope’s familiar themes of love, marriage, and matriarchal machinations; the mores of the period; the importance of appearance over authenticity, and status over sincerity; devious deception, and struggles of conscience, are treated in this continuing chronicle of clerical kinship.

To my mind the author is at his best when dealing with the characters of his subjects, in particular through his easy command of dialogue, and his descriptions of his period.

Julian Symons has written a helpful introduction in which he acknowledges that he is at odds with many critics.

The Folio Society aims to commission illustrators commensurate in style with the periods of their publications. Peter Reddick’s elegantly delicate drawings perfectly fit the bill. Each is placed within the text of a single page, on a rather smaller scale than these I produce here.

A comparison of these with the same man’s woodcuts for Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ provides ample examples of this illustrator’s versatility

On this dull but dry day Jackie continued with her planting as in this orange themed chimney pot,

and tidying along the Gazebo Path. She watched the blue tit at top right of this picture

feeding on sunflower seed hearts which it

carried up to the wisteria,

placing it beneath its foot with which it gripped the nugget while it nibbled away. This was done repeatedly.

Our very own Nugget, still skittish and clearly occupied elsewhere, is back investigating Jackie’s activities.

“Where’s Nugget?” (70)

The pieris behind the Nottingham Castle bench in the picture above is one example of the red/green complimentary colours that Jackie photographed along with all today’s photographs.


Another is shown by these geranium palmatum leaves turning red to warm up in cold weather.

The red Japanese maple stands beneath the golden one behind it;

 the red leaves and gold flowers of this heuchera repeat that combination.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower, carrots, runner beans, and red cabbage with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cap Royal Bordeaux Supérieur 2016.


Skilful Chiselling

When John Corden visited us in February he was struck by our New Forest landscape which reminded him of studying Thomas Hardy’s “The Return of the Native” which he had read at school, where his English teacher had instructed the boys not to skip the first chapters describing the landscape because that countryside was one of the important characters in the book. He asked us whether Hardy had lived nearby. He had, indeed. On October 11th 2013 we had visited the thatched cottage in which he was born, not far away across the county border into Dorset. Jackie sits by the fireside which once warmed the budding writer.

I therefore returned to my Folio Society edition of the novel in which the terrain is indeed a major feature. An informative introduction by R.M. puts the work in the context of the author’s life and work.

Thomas Hardy writes an engrossing and intriguing tale of life and relationships among a few villagers sharing the remote setting. Such geographical proximity as there is does not exclude emotional distance, rivalry, and conflict. The author’s descriptions of the nature of the human inhabitants, the wildlife, and Egdon Heath itself is matched by sensitive dialogue. One might also say that the weather, which certainly reflects the action and moods of the protagonists, is also a significant character.

Peter Reddick’s robust, muscular, woodcuts depict the harsh reality of life at the time, and the noble strength of those who lived there then.

Endpaper maps of the fictional Wessex have Egdon Heath alongside what is The New Forest, and Reddick’s illustrations show a landscape largely unchanged in our National Park.


I have diverged from my usual practise of presenting the illustrations in full page scans because they are so small and so numerous that I would be flooding you with text. This has the advantage of enlarging and making more visible the artist’s skilful chiselling.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; roasted new and sweet potatoes; crunchy carrots, and tender green beans with which I finished the Pinot Noir and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Barchester Towers.


It may not have escaped some readers’ awareness that I have been struggling against a ailment of some sort for the last few days. This morning, Jackie made an appointment, forced me into the car, and drove me to the GP’s surgery where I was given a prescription for antibiotics which I collected from the adjacent pharmacy.

‘Anthony Trollope’s own goals’ is the title of a post on Adrian is Jackie’s eminently erudite cousin whose piece gave me the nudge I needed to get on and read my complete set of the writer’s works before I run out of time. When I conveyed this intention to the blogger, he advised me to start with ‘Barchester Towers’, then move on to ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ Today I finished reading the first.

Here is a link to Wikipedia on the great Victorian novelist:

Anthony Trollope

I had been under the impression that the only one of his forty seven novels I had already read was ‘The Warden’, some forty years ago. It was not until I found a slender bookmark towards the end of ‘Barchester Towers’, that I realised I had read that one as well. Never mind, I had forgotten it, so enjoyed it afresh. The writer’s style, a little lengthy for today’s taste, is superb. Trollope has an insightful knowledge of human nature combined with the ability to convey the emotional life of his characters with clarity, compassion, and passion. He has subtle humour and evokes the manners of the the time with a keen descriptive eye. The book in question is well crafted, keeping the reader interested in the tale he is telling. As usual, I will not give away any details.

My set is from The Folio Society. This one is dated 1977, and has an introduction by Julian Symons.

The text is embellished by Peter Reddick’s delicate drawings, nicely evoking both the setting and the characters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s marvellous macaroni cheese, green beans, broccoli, carrots, and ham. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; I finished the Costières de Nîmes; and Becky and Ian didn’t imbibe.