Christmas at Dove Cottage

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After a lifetime of tending to her brother the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, Dorothy spent her final years suffering from dementia. Food was the only thing that cheered her up. Here her sister-in-law, Mary, records her joy at receiving a surprise Christmas turkey…

I wish you could have but seen the joy with which that countenance glistened at the sight of your never-to-be forgotten present. Every sensation of irritation of discomfort vanished, and she stroked and hugged the Turkey upon her knee like an overjoyed and happy child – exulting in, and blessing over and over again her dear dearest friend….The two beautiful lily white Chicken were next the object of her admiration, and when Dora said it was a pity that such lovely creatures should have been killed, she scouted the regret, saying ‘What would they do for her alive…and she should eat them every bit herself.

Mary Wordsworth to Jane Marshall, The Letters of Mary Wordsworth 1800-1855, ed Mary E. Burton (1958)