William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

Overview
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

 poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

, helped to launch the Romantic Age
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature...

.


Wordsworth's magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

 is generally considered to be The Prelude
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

,
a semiautobiographical poem of his early years which he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, prior to which it was generally known as the poem "to Coleridge".
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Quotations

And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.

Guilt and Sorrow, st. 41 (1791-1794)

There's something in a flying horse,There's something in a huge balloon;But through the clouds I'll never floatUntil I have a little Boat,Shaped like the crescent-moon.

Peter Bell, Prologue, st. 1 (1798)

A primrose by a river's brimA yellow primrose was to him,And it was nothing more.

Peter Bell, Pt. I, st. 12 (1798)

I traveled among unknown men,In lands beyond the sea;Nor, England! did I know till thenWhat love I bore to thee.

I Traveled Among Unknown Men, st. 1 (1799)

Much converse do I find in thee,Historian of my infancy!Float near me; do not yet depart!Dead times revive in thee:Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art!A solemn image to my heart.

To a Butterfly (Stay Near Me), st. 1 (1801)

Behold, within the leafy shade,Those bright blue eggs together laid!On me the chance-discovered sightGleamed like a vision of delight.

The Sparrow's Nest, st. 1 (1801)

She gave me eyes, she gave me ears;And humble cares,and delicate fears;A heart, the fountain of sweet tears;And love, and thought, and joy.

The Sparrow's Nest, st. 2 (1801)

Sweet childish days, that were as longAs twenty days are now.

To a Butterfly (I've Watched You Now a Full Half-Hour), st. 2 (1801)

Like an army defeatedThe snow hath retreated,And now doth fare illOn the top of the bare hill;The Ploughboy is whooping— anon— anon!There's joy in the mountains:There's life in the fountains;Small clouds are sailing,Blue sky prevailing;The rain is over and gone.

Written in March, st. 2 (1801)
Encyclopedia
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

 poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

, helped to launch the Romantic Age
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature...

.


Wordsworth's magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

 is generally considered to be The Prelude
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

,
a semiautobiographical poem of his early years which he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, prior to which it was generally known as the poem "to Coleridge". Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

 from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Early life



The second of five children born to John Wordsworth and Ann Cookson, William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in Wordsworth House
Wordsworth House
Wordsworth House is a Georgian townhouse situated in Cockermouth, Cumbria, England, and in the ownership of the National Trust.It was built in the mid-18th century. William Wordsworth was born in the house in 1770. The house is a Grade I listed building. It is open to the public from March to...

 in Cockermouth, Cumberland—part of the scenic region in northwest England, the Lake District
Lake District
The Lake District, also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous not only for its lakes and its mountains but also for its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth...

. His sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth
Dorothy Wordsworth
Dorothy Mae Ann Wordsworth was an English author, poet and diarist. She was the sister of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and the two were close for all of their lives...

, to whom he was close all his life, was born the following year, and the two were baptised together. They had three other siblings: Richard, the eldest, who became a lawyer; John, born after Dorothy, who went to sea and died in 1805 when the ship of which he was Master, Earl of Abergavenny
Earl of Abergavenny (East Indiaman)
The Earl of Abergavenny was an East Indiaman that was wrecked in Weymouth Bay, England in 1805. She was one of the largest built and William Wordsworth's brother John was her captain her last two successful voyages to China. He was also her captain on her fifth voyage and lost his life when she...

 was wrecked off the south coast of England; and Christopher
Christopher Wordsworth (Trinity)
Christopher Wordsworth , was an English divine and scholar.Born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, he was the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1798.Twelve years later he received the degree of DD...

, the youngest, who entered the Church and rose to be Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

. Their father was a legal representative of James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale
James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale
Sir James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale was the son of Robert Lowther and Catherine Pennington.He married Mary Crichton-Stuart, daughter of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and Mary Wortley-Montagu, 1st Baroness Mount Stuart on 7 September 1761.On 9 June 1792 he fought a duel with a Captain Cuthbert...

 and, through his connections, lived in a large mansion in the small town. Wordsworth, as with his siblings, had little involvement with their father, and they would be distant from him until his death in 1783.

Wordsworth's father, although rarely present, did teach him poetry, including that of Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

, Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 and Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

, in addition to allowing his son to rely on his own father's library. Along with spending time reading in Cockermouth, Wordsworth would also stay at his mother's parents house in Penrith
Penrith, Cumbria
Penrith was an urban district between 1894 and 1974, when it was merged into Eden District.The authority's area was coterminous with the civil parish of Penrith although when the council was abolished Penrith became an unparished area....

, Cumberland. At Penrith, Wordsworth was exposed to the moors. Wordsworth could not get along with his grandparents and his uncle, and his hostile interactions with them distressed him to the point of contemplating suicide.

After the death of their mother, in 1778, John Wordsworth sent William to Hawkshead Grammar School
Hawkshead Grammar School
Hawkshead Grammar School in Hawkshead, Cumbria, England was founded in 1585 by Archbishop Edwin Sandys, of York, who petitioned a charter from Queen Elizabeth I to set up a governing body. The early School taught Latin, Greek and sciences, including arithmetic and geometry...

 in Lancashire and Dorothy to live with relatives in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

; she and William would not meet again for another nine years. Although Hawkshead was Wordsworth's first serious experience with education, he had been taught to read by his mother and had attended a tiny school of low quality in Cockermouth. After the Cockermouth school, he was sent to a school in Penrith for the children of upper-class families and taught by Ann Birkett, a woman who insisted on instilling in her students traditions that included pursuing both scholarly and local activities, especially the festivals around Easter, May Day, and Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday is a term used in English-speaking countries, especially in Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Germany, and parts of the United States for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of fasting and prayer called Lent.The...

. Wordsworth was taught both the Bible and the Spectator, but little else. It was at the school that Wordsworth was to meet the Hutchinsons, including Mary, who would be his future wife.

Wordsworth made his debut as a writer in 1787 when he published a sonnet in The European Magazine
The European Magazine
European Magazine, published in London, ran from 1782 until 1826, publishing eighty-nine volumes. As the European Magazine, and London Review it was launched in January 1782, promising to offer "the Literature, History, Politics, Arts, Manners, and Amusements of the Age." It was in direct...

. That same year he began attending St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, and received his B.A. degree in 1791. He returned to Hawkshead for his first two summer holidays, and often spent later holidays on walking tours, visiting places famous for the beauty of their landscape. In 1790, he took a walking tour of Europe, during which he toured the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 extensively, and visited nearby areas of France, Switzerland, and Italy.

Relationship with Annette Vallon


In November 1791, Wordsworth visited Revolutionary France and became enthralled with the Republican movement
Citizen and Republican Movement
The Citizen and Republican Movement is a political party in France. The party replaced, in 2002, the Citizens' Movement founded by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who left the Socialist Party in 1993 due to his opposition to the Persian Gulf War and to the Maastricht Treaty...

. He fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, who in 1792 gave birth to their child, Caroline. Because of lack of money and Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

's tensions with France, he returned alone to England the next year. The circumstances of his return and his subsequent behaviour raise doubts as to his declared wish to marry Annette, but he supported her and his daughter as best he could in later life. The Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

 estranged him from the Republican movement, and war between France and Britain prevented him from seeing Annette and Caroline again for several years. There are strong suggestions that Wordsworth may have been depressed and emotionally unsettled in the mid-1790s.

With the Peace of Amiens again allowing travel to France, in 1802 Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, visited Annette and Caroline in Calais. The purpose of the visit was to pave the way for his forthcoming marriage to Mary Hutchinson, and a mutually agreeable settlement was reached regarding Wordsworth's obligations. Afterwards he wrote the poem "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free," recalling his seaside walk with his daughter, whom he had not seen for ten years. At the conception of this poem, he had never seen his daughter before. The occurring lines reveal his deep love for both child and mother.

First publication and Lyrical Ballads


In his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads", which is called the "manifesto" of English Romantic criticism, Wordsworth calls his poems "experimental." The year 1793 saw Wordsworth's first published poetry with the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. He received a legacy of £900 from Raisley Calvert in 1795 so that he could pursue writing poetry. That year, he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

 in Somerset. The two poets quickly developed a close friendship. In 1797, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy
Dorothy Wordsworth
Dorothy Mae Ann Wordsworth was an English author, poet and diarist. She was the sister of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and the two were close for all of their lives...

 moved to Alfoxton House
Alfoxton House
Alfoxton House, also known as Alfoxton Park, was built as an 18th century country house in Holford, Somerset, England, within the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty...

, Somerset, just a few miles away from Coleridge's home in Nether Stowey
Nether Stowey
Nether Stowey is a large village in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, South West England. It sits in the foothills of the Quantock Hills , just below Over Stowey...

. Together, Wordsworth and Coleridge (with insights from Dorothy) produced Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads
Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature...

(1798), an important work in the English Romantic movement
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

. The volume gave neither Wordsworth's nor Coleridge's name as author. One of Wordsworth's most famous poems, "Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey (poem)
"Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, 13 July 1798" is a poem by William Wordsworth. Tintern Abbey is an abbey abandoned in 1536 and located in the southern Welsh county of Monmouthshire...

", was published in the work, along with Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and was published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss...

". The second edition, published in 1800, had only Wordsworth listed as the author, and included a preface to the poems, which was augmented significantly in the 1802 edition. This Preface to Lyrical Ballads is considered a central work of Romantic literary theory. In it, Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the "real language of men" and which avoids the poetic diction of much 18th-century poetry. Here, Wordsworth gives his famous definition of poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." A fourth and final edition of Lyrical Ballads was published in 1805.

The Borderers


From 1795 to 1797, he wrote his only play, The Borderers, a verse tragedy during the reign of King Henry III of England when Englishmen of the north country were in conflict with Scottish rovers. Wordsworth attempted to get the play staged in November 1797, but it was rejected by Thomas Harris, theatre manager of Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

, who proclaimed it "impossible that the play should succeed in the representation". The rebuff was not received lightly by Wordsworth, and the play was not published until 1842, after substantial revision.

Germany and move to the Lake District


Wordsworth, Dorothy and Coleridge travelled to Germany in the autumn of 1798. While Coleridge was intellectually stimulated by the trip, its main effect on Wordsworth was to produce homesickness. During the harsh winter of 1798–99, Wordsworth lived with Dorothy in Goslar
Goslar
Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the administrative centre of the district of Goslar and located on the northwestern slopes of the Harz mountain range. The Old Town of Goslar and the Mines of Rammelsberg are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-Geography:Goslar is situated at the...

, and, despite extreme stress and loneliness, he began work on an autobiographical piece later titled The Prelude. He wrote a number of famous poems, including "The Lucy poems
The Lucy poems
The Lucy poems are a series of five poems composed by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth between 1798 and 1801. All but one were first published during 1800 in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, a collaboration between Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge that was both Wordsworth's...

". He and his sister moved back to England, now to Dove Cottage
Dove Cottage
Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere in the Lake District. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, where they spent over eight years of "plain living, but high thinking"...

 in Grasmere
Grasmere
Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist destination, in the centre of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake, and is associated with the Lake Poets...

 in the Lake District, and this time with fellow poet Robert Southey
Robert Southey
Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

 nearby. Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey came to be known as the "Lake Poets
Lake Poets
The Lake Poets are a group of English poets who all lived in the Lake District of England at the turn of the nineteenth century. As a group, they followed no single "school" of thought or literary practice then known, although their works were uniformly disparaged by the Edinburgh Review...

". Through this period, many of his poems revolve around themes of death, endurance, separation and grief.

Marriage and children


In 1802, after Wordsworth's return from his trip to France with Dorothy to visit Annette and Caroline, Lowther's heir, William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale
William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale
William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale of the second creation KG was a British Tory politician and nobleman.-Life:...

, paid the ₤4,000 debt owed to Wordsworth's father incurred through Lowther's failure to pay his aide. Later that year, on October 4, Wordsworth married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson. Dorothy continued to live with the couple and grew close to Mary. The following year, Mary gave birth to the first of five children, two of whom predeceased William and Mary:
  • John Wordsworth (18 June 1803–1875). Married four times:
  1. Isabella Curwen (d. 1848) had six children: Jane, Henry, William, John, Charles and Edward.
  2. Helen Ross (d. 1854). No children
  3. Mary Ann Dolan (d. after 1858) had one daughter Dora (b.1858).
  4. Mary Gamble. No children
    • Dora Wordsworth
      Dora Wordsworth
      Dora Wordsworth was the only surviving daughter of William Wordsworth , major Romantic poet and British Poet Laureate. Her babyhood inspired Wordsworth to write the beautiful "Address To My Infant Daughter" in her honour...

       (16 August 1804 – 9 July 1847). Married Edward Quillinan
      Edward Quillinan
      Edward Quillinan was an English poet who was a son-in-law and defender of William Wordsworth and a translator of Portuguese poetry.-Early life:...

       in 1843.
    • Thomas Wordsworth (15 June 1806 – 1 December 1812).
    • Catherine Wordsworth (6 September 1808 – 4 June 1812).
    • William "Willy" Wordsworth (12 May 1810–1883). Married Fanny Graham and had four children: Mary Louisa, William, Reginald, Gordon.

Autobiographical work and Poems in Two Volumes


Wordsworth had for years been making plans to write a long philosophical poem in three parts, which he intended to call The Recluse. He had in 1798–99 started an autobiographical poem, which he never named but called the "poem to Coleridge
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

", which would serve as an appendix to The Recluse. In 1804, he began expanding this autobiographical work, having decided to make it a prologue rather than an appendix to the larger work he planned. By 1805, he had completed it, but refused to publish such a personal work until he had completed the whole of The Recluse. The death of his brother, John, in 1805 affected him strongly.

The source of Wordsworth's philosophical allegiances as articulated in The Prelude
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

and in such shorter works as "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey"
Tintern Abbey (poem)
"Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, 13 July 1798" is a poem by William Wordsworth. Tintern Abbey is an abbey abandoned in 1536 and located in the southern Welsh county of Monmouthshire...

 has been the source of much critical debate. While it had long been supposed that Wordsworth relied chiefly on Coleridge for philosophical guidance, more recent scholarship has suggested that Wordsworth's ideas may have been formed years before he and Coleridge became friends in the mid 1790s. While in Revolutionary Paris in 1792, the 22-year-old Wordsworth made the acquaintance of the mysterious traveller John "Walking" Stewart (1747–1822), who was nearing the end of a thirty-years' peregrination from Madras, India, through Persia and Arabia, across Africa and all of Europe, and up through the fledgling United States. By the time of their association, Stewart had published an ambitious work of original materialist philosophy entitled The Apocalypse of Nature (London, 1791), to which many of Wordsworth's philosophical sentiments are likely indebted.

In 1807, his Poems in Two Volumes
Poems in Two Volumes
Poems in Two Volumes was an 1807 publication by the poet William Wordsworth .It included many notable Wordsworth poems, including:* "Resolution and Independence"...

were published, including "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood". Up to this point Wordsworth was known publicly only for Lyrical Ballads, and he hoped this collection would cement his reputation. Its reception was lukewarm, however. For a time (starting in 1810), Wordsworth and Coleridge were estranged over the latter's opium addiction. Two of his children, Thomas and Catherine, died in 1812. The following year, he received an appointment as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland, and the £400 per year income from the post made him financially secure. His family, including Dorothy, moved to Rydal Mount
Rydal Mount
Rydal Mount is a house near Ambleside in the Lake District. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth from 1813 to his death in 1850....

, Ambleside
Ambleside
Ambleside is a town in Cumbria, in North West England.Historically within the county of Westmorland, it is situated at the head of Windermere, England's largest lake...

 (between Grasmere and Rydal Water) in 1813, where he spent the rest of his life.

The Prospectus


In 1814 he published The Excursion
The Excursion
The Excursion: Being a portion of The Recluse, a poem is a long poem by Romantic poet William Wordsworth and was first published in 1814 . It was intended to be the second part of The Recluse, an unfinished larger work that was also meant to include The Prelude, Wordsworth's other long poem, which...

as the second part of the three-part The Recluse. He had not completed the first and third parts, and never would. He did, however, write a poetic Prospectus to "The Recluse" in which he lays out the structure and intent of the poem. The Prospectus contains some of Wordsworth's most famous lines on the relation between the human mind and nature:
My voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual Mind
(And the progressive powers perhaps no less
Of the whole species) to the external World
Is fitted:--and how exquisitely, too,
Theme this but little heard of among Men,
The external World is fitted to the Mind.

Some modern critics recognise a decline in his works beginning around the mid-1810s. But this decline was perhaps more a change in his lifestyle and beliefs, since most of the issues that characterise his early poetry (loss, death, endurance, separation and abandonment) were resolved in his writings. But, by 1820, he enjoyed the success accompanying a reversal in the contemporary critical opinion of his earlier works. Following the death of his friend the painter William Green
William Green (painter)
William Green was an artist, poet, writer, and landscape painter, who made images mainly of the Lake District, determined to make them "adhere as faithfully as possible to nature." His biographer, Charles Roeder, stated: "his novel method is notable, as the artists have all a conventional and...

 in 1823, Wordsworth mended relations with Coleridge. The two were fully reconciled by 1828, when they toured the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 together. Dorothy suffered from a severe illness in 1829 that rendered her an invalid for the remainder of her life. In 1835, Wordsworth gave Annette and Caroline the money they needed for support.

The Poet Laureate and other honours


Wordsworth received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1838 from Durham University
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

, and the same honour from Oxford University the next year. In 1842 the government awarded him a civil list pension amounting to £300 a year. With the death in 1843 of Robert Southey, Wordsworth became the Poet Laureate. He initially refused the honour, saying he was too old, but accepted when Prime Minister Robert Peel assured him "you shall have nothing required of you" (he became the only laureate to write no official poetry). When his daughter, Dora, died in 1847, his production of poetry came to a standstill.

Death



William Wordsworth died by re-aggravating a case of pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

 on 23 April 1850, and was buried at St. Oswald's church in Grasmere
Grasmere
Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist destination, in the centre of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake, and is associated with the Lake Poets...

. His widow Mary published his lengthy autobiographical "poem to Coleridge" as The Prelude
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

several months after his death. Though this failed to arouse great interest in 1850, it has since come to be recognised as his masterpiece.

Major works

  • Lyrical Ballads
    Lyrical Ballads
    Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature...

    , with a Few Other Poems
    (1798)
    • "Simon Lee"
    • "We are Seven
      We are Seven
      "We are Seven" is a poem written by William Wordsworth and published in his Lyrical Ballads. It describes a discussion between an adult poetic speaker and a "little cottage girl" about the number of brothers and sisters who dwell with her...

      "
    • "Lines Written in Early Spring"
    • "Expostulation and Reply"
    • "The Tables Turned
      The Tables Turned
      The Tables Turned is a poem written by William Wordsworth in 1798 and published in his Lyrical Ballads....

      "
    • "The Thorn"
    • "Lines Composed A Few Miles above Tintern Abbey
      Tintern Abbey (poem)
      "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, 13 July 1798" is a poem by William Wordsworth. Tintern Abbey is an abbey abandoned in 1536 and located in the southern Welsh county of Monmouthshire...

      "
  • Lyrical Ballads
    Lyrical Ballads
    Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature...

    , with Other Poems
    (1800)
    • Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
      Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
      The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads is an essay, composed by William Wordsworth for the second edition of the poetry collection Lyrical Ballads, and then greatly expanded in the third edition of 1802.-External links:**...

    • "Strange fits of passion have I known
      Strange fits of passion have I known
      "Strange fits of passion have I known" is a seven-stanza poem ballad by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Composed during a sojourn in Germany in 1798, the poem was first published in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads . The poem describes the poet's trip to his beloved Lucy's...

      "
    • "She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways
      She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways
      "She dwelt among the untrodden ways" is a three-stanza poem written by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth in 1798 when he was 28 years old. The verse was first printed in Lyrical Ballads, 1800, a volume of Wordsworth's and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poems that marked a climacteric in the...

      "
    • "Three years she grew"
    • "A Slumber Did my Spirit Seal
      A slumber did my spirit seal
      "A slumber did my spirit seal" is a poem written by William Wordsworth in 1798 and published in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads. It is usually included as one of his Lucy poems, although it is the only poem of the series not to mention her name....

      "
    • "I travelled among unknown men"
    • "Lucy Gray
      Lucy Gray
      Lucy Gray is the debut full length album from American emo band, Envy On The Coast. The album was released under Matt Galle's Photo Finish Records on August 7, 2007. The album's first single, "Sugar Skulls," is currently on the iTunes Music store. "Mirrors" has also been released as the second single...

      "
    • "The Two April Mornings"
    • "Nutting"
    • "The Ruined Cottage"
    • "Michael"
    • "The Kitten At Play"
  • Poems, in Two Volumes (1807)
    • "Resolution and Independence
      Resolution and Independence
      "Resolution and Independence" is a lyric poem by the English romantic poet William Wordsworth, composed in 1802 and published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes...

      "
    • "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
      I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
      "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is a poem by William Wordsworth.It was inspired by an April 15, 1802 event in which Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, came across a "long belt" of daffodils...

      " Also known as "Daffodils"
    • "My Heart Leaps Up
      My Heart Leaps Up
      My Heart Leaps Up When I BeholdMy heart leaps up when I beholdA rainbow in the sky:So was it when my life began;So is it now I am a man;So be it when I shall grow old,Or let me die!The Child is father of the Man;And I could wish my days to be...

      "
    • "Ode: Intimations of Immortality
      Ode: Intimations of Immortality
      Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood is a poem by William Wordsworth, completed in 1804 and published in Poems, in Two Volumes . The poem was completed in two parts, with the first four stanzas written among a series of poems composed in 1802 about childhood...

      "
    • "Ode to Duty
      Ode to Duty
      Ode to Duty is a poem written by William Wordsworth.-Description:“Ode to Duty” is an appeal to the principle of morality for guidance and support...

      "
    • "The Solitary Reaper
      The Solitary Reaper
      "The Solitary Reaper" is a ballad by English Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and one of his best-known works in English literature.'"The Solitary Reaper" is one of Wordsworth's most famous post-Lyrical Ballads lyrics...

      "
    • "Elegiac Stanzas
      Elegiac Stanzas
      Elegiac Stanzas is a poem by William Wordsworth, originally published in Poems, in Two Volumes . Its full title is "Elegiac Stanzas, Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm, Painted by Sir George Beaumont."...

      "
    • "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
      Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
      "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802" is a sonnet by William Wordsworth describing London and the River Thames, viewed from Westminster Bridge in the early morning. It was first published in the collection Poems in Two Volumes in 1807....

      "
    • "London, 1802
      London, 1802
      "London, 1802" is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In the poem Wordsworth castigates the English people as stagnant and selfish, and eulogizes seventeenth-century poet John Milton....

      "
    • "The World Is Too Much with Us
      The world is too much with us
      "The World Is Too Much with Us" is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In it, Wordsworth criticizes the world of the First Industrial Revolution for being absorbed in materialism and distancing itself from nature. Composed circa 1802, the poem was first published in Poems, In...

      "
  • Guide to the Lakes
    Guide to the Lakes
    Guide to the Lakes, William Wordsworth's travellers' guidebook to England's Lake District, has been studied by scholars both for its relationship to his Romantic poetry and as an early influence on 19th-century geography. Originally written because Wordsworth needed money, the first version was...

    (1810)

  • The Excursion
    The Excursion
    The Excursion: Being a portion of The Recluse, a poem is a long poem by Romantic poet William Wordsworth and was first published in 1814 . It was intended to be the second part of The Recluse, an unfinished larger work that was also meant to include The Prelude, Wordsworth's other long poem, which...

    (1814)

  • Laodamia (1815, 1845)

  • The Prelude
    The Prelude
    The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

    (1850)

Further reading

  • Hunter Davies, William Wordsworth-A Biography, Frances Lincoln Ltd,London,2009 ISBN 978-0-7112-3045-3
  • Emma Mason, The Cambridge Introduction to William Wordsworth (Cambridge University Press, 2010) http://www.cup.cam.ac.uk/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521721479
  • M.R. Tewari, One Interior Life—A Study of the Nature of Wordsworth's Poetic Experience, (New Delhi: S. Chand & Company Ltd, 1983)
  • Report to Wordsworth, Written by Boey Kim Cheng, as a direct reference to his poems Composed Upon Westminster Bridge and The World is too Much with us

External links



General information and biographical sketches
Books
  • Anonymous; Wordsworth at Cambridge. A Record of the Commemoration Held at St John’s College, Cambridge in April 1950; Cambridge University Press, 1950 (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-108-00289-9)
  • Mallaby, George
    George Mallaby (public servant)
    Sir Howard "George" Charles Mallaby, KCMG, OBE , was an English schoolmaster and public servant. He received the US Legion of Merit in 1946 and was knighted in 1958...

    , Wordsworth: a Tribute (1950)

Wordsworth's works