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William Wordsworth and Modern TravelRailways, Motorcars and the Lake District, 1830-1940$
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Saeko Yoshikawa

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621181

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621181.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Wordsworth and Railways

Wordsworth and Railways

(p.31) Chapter One Wordsworth and Railways
William Wordsworth and Modern Travel

Saeko Yoshikawa

Liverpool University Press

This chapter offers a wide-ranging reappraisal of the controversy provoked by the projected Kendal and Windermere Railway in the years 1844 to 1847. It re-examines Wordsworth’s motives for entering this controversy, the support and opposition he attracted, including some poetical ripostes, what he failed to see and where he was far-sighted. Frequently criticized as selfish, class-biased discrimination against mass-tourism, or welcomed as a dawn of modern environmentalism, Wordsworth’s anti-railway sonnets and letters published in the Morning Post were in fact more complex than has been supposed, and sometimes contradictory. Far from rejecting railways and technological invention, Wordsworth predicted a glorious future for steam power in terms that were, ironically, quickly appropriated by railway promoters to further their own aims. Ranging widely beyond the Kendal and Windermere Railway, the debate allowed Wordsworth to voice his opinions on scenery, transport, self-dependence, master-employee relations, local society and economy, aesthetics and prescient environmental considerations.

Keywords:   Kendal and Windermere Railway, railway controversy, railway sonnets, mass-tourism, self-dependence, local economy, protection of scenery

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