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William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth – Life

William Wordsworth, titan of English Romanticism, and one of the best-known English poets, was born 7 April 1770 in Cockermouth, England. He was the second of five children. William Wordsworth’s work was shaped by the formative experiences of his mother’s early death, and later his father’s passing while he was at school.

William Wordsworth married his childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson, in 1802. They had five children together. Before this marriage, William Wordsworth had one child out of wedlock with Annette Vallon. Later in life he did his best to support Annette and the child, despite leaving France and marrying.

William Wordsworth died 23 April 1850 from a bad case of pleurisy.

Click the above image for more of William Wordsworth’s poems.

William Wordsworth – Work

Known for his “common man” voice and approach to poetry Wordsworth appealed to a wide audience. He wrote in a simple style about everyday events and emotions, instead of the lofty epics of the past. He developed this style while traveling through Europe, where he encountered the French revolution and anti-hierarchical schools of thought.

William Wordsworth most famous poem “The Prelude” was published after his death. While he was alive he published a collection with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coelridge titled Lyrical Ballads that became very famous. For Wordsworth the first volume featured “Lines Composed A Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” and for Coelridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

William Wordsworth’s sizeable body of work has won him great acclaim, and he is credited with popularizing English Romanticism as a literary movement.

William Wordsworth at Cambridge

William Wordsworth received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College, University of Cambridge. The same year he started university he made his debut as a published writer in The European Magazine.

He frequently returned to Cambridge to be inspired by the beautiful landscapes around it. His poem “Residence at Cambridge” features many of the University’s distinctive likenesses, including the Chapel at King’s College.

William Wordsworth

King’s College Chapel, described in Wordsworth’s poem “Residence at Cambridge.” Photo by Martin Pettitt.

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