Institute of English Studies
The Annual Wordsworth Lecture
'Wordsworth and the Meaning of Trees'
Professor Fiona Stafford
(University of Oxford)
From the 'Sylvan Wye' by Tintern Abbey to the 'leafy glen' in 'Airey Force Valley', Wordsworth's poetry abounds in trees. Are these bosky backgrounds any more than picturesque scene-painting? Does it matter whether Wordsworth refers to an ash, an oak, a holly or a yew-tree? The lecture explores the literary, cultural and local associations of Wordsworth's trees, in order to reveal fuller meanings in familiar poems and to shed fresh light on his larger creative endeavour.
Fiona Stafford is Professor of English at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College. She is the editor of a new edition of Lyrical Ballads for Oxford World's Classics. Her recent books include Local Attachments: The Province of Poetry; Reading Romantic Poetry; Brief Lives: Jane Austen; Starting Lines in Scottish, Irish and English Poetry. She has written and delivered two series for the Radio 3 Essay, called 'The Meaning of Trees'. The lecture draws on her work for the radio as well as her literary scholarship'.