Jonathan Wordsworth, 15 October 1981
I was amused some years back to find that the distinguished head of my college used to play the same game as I did when bored by meetings of the Governing Body. He would let his eye move round the table, and try to imagine what each of our decorous colleagues in turn would look like in bed. Transferring the game to a literary scene, one would have no trouble at all with the later Romantics – Byron, Shelley, Keats. Among the older generation, Blake and Coleridge might be a little more difficult. Wordsworth for most would be impossible. To Shelley he seemed ‘a solemn and unsexual man’ (‘Peter Bell the Third’), and even the revelation early in this century that he had a French girlfriend, and French illegitimate daughter, has not altered the stuffy public image of Victorian Poet Laureate and sage of Rydal Mount.