The Summer Conference was created in 1970 by Richard Wordsworth, the great-great grandson of the poet, in collaboration with Marilyn Gaull of The Wordsworth Circle, to celebrate Wordsworth's work and influence on the bicententary of his birth.
The extraordinary ethos of the conference, which was designed to appeal to academics and enthusiasts alike, owes much, also, to Sylvia Wordsworth, its administrator for almost thirty years, Molly Lefebure, the Cumbrian expert and Coleridge biographer, who instituted its rich programme of walks and excursions, Jonathan Wordsworth, who directed the conference from 1993 to 2005, and the genial and learned chairmanship (for almost two decades) of Bill Ruddick. The conference combines high level academic discourse (in the form of lectures and research papers) with vigorous fell walks and significant excursions.
Its influence on Wordsworth and Romantic Studies has been incalculable. A list of past lecturers would amount to a Who's Who of Romantic Studies. Many great works of criticism and scholarship were first aired here, including classic essays by Jonathan Bate, John and Gillian Beer, Frederick Burwick, David Erdman, Geoffrey Hartman, Thomas McFarland, Lucy Newlyn, Nicholas Roe, E. P. Thompson, Nicola Trott, Jonathan Wordsworth and others, and many enduring scholarly projects were conceived on the fells and over dinner.
The Winter School, which has run continuously since 1983, is a four day event, at a slightly more leisurely pace.
It consists of eight morning and evening lectures by experts in the field, daily group seminars, and evening readings (to give the poets the first word before the next day's lectures), and is designed to appeal to general readers from a wide variety of backgrounds who meet to share a common love of poetry and enjoy the landscape in its beautiful winter colours.
Explore the grounds of Rydal Hall,
our conference venue for both events
The 2019 Summer Conference will open for advance booking by Members and Friends of the Foundation on 22 April. General Bookings will open on 6 May.
News of the 2020 Winter School will be published in July.
Advanced Booking will open for Members and Friends on 16 September, and General Bookings on 23 September.
"It has changed my life"
"An extremely happy event"
"A wonderful experience – I wish I’d started attending earlier!"
"I had a terrific time"
"The gold-standard conference"
"The best possible atmosphere for intellectual enquiry"