Autograph letter signed "W. Wordsworth" to Elizabeth Fox, Lady Holland, acknowledging her donation to the Grasmere orphans. William Wordsworth.
Autograph letter signed "W. Wordsworth" to Elizabeth Fox, Lady Holland, acknowledging her donation to the Grasmere orphans

On the orphans of George and Sarah Green

Autograph letter signed "W. Wordsworth" to Elizabeth Fox, Lady Holland, acknowledging her donation to the Grasmere orphans.

Grasmere: June 20 [1808].

2 pp; addressed on intergral blank; wax seal. 12mo. On the orphans of George and Sarah Green. Bifolium. Old folds, tear from seal. Item #313739

"I have just received your obliging letter informing me of the Collection which by your means has been made for our Grasmere Orphans. I thank you sincerely for your kind and successful exertions in their behalf.... It will be a satisfaction to you to hear, that we have raised as much money as we think we shall have occasion for, and that there is every prospect that it will be of substantial service to the Children. ... My sister joins with me in respectful remembrances to yourself and his Lordship...."

The Grasmere orphans were the eight children of local cottagers George and Sarah Green, who died on March 19 in an accident on the snow-covered fells between Langdale and Easedale. One of the children, Sally, was already in the Wordsworth’s service, and the Wordsworths undertook a relief effort on the children's behalf. "The involvement of the adult Wordsworths was equal and complementary: William organizing behind the scenes with an appeal to well-off friends, Dorothy writing her moving account A Narrative Concerning George and Sarah Green to raise funds, and Mary heading a committee of local ladies distributing those funds. The plight of the orphaned children brought out what was most generous and community-minded in the early-orphaned inhabitants of Dove Cottage." (Oxford Companion to Wordsworth, p 56). Wordsworth wrote a ballad-elegy for the couple, which begins: "Who weeps for strangers? Many wept/For George and Sarah Green;/Wept for that pair's unhappy fate, Whose grave may here be seen...."

Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Baroness Holland (1771-1845), was the hostess of a popular literary salon at Holland House, in Kensington. Wordsworth first met her and her husband, the whig politician Henry Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland, in London in 1806, and again at Low Wood in August 1807.

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