William Wordsworth | An early leader of romanticism
Born on April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England, William Wordsworth is one of the most influential English Romantic poet. His siblings consist of his sister, Dorothy, the eldest brother Richard, younger brothers John and Christopher. His father was a lawyer and his mother taught him how to read. He became orphan at the age of 15.
He wrote his first composition in 1787 when he published a sonnet in The European Magazine. He was taught at Hawkshead Grammar School after which he attended Cambridge University. He received his BA degree in 1791. Wordsworth had visited France in 1790 during the French Revolution. He was an enthusiast of the new government’s republican ideals. He fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, who gave birth to their daughter Caroline in 1792. However, the two separated for years because of the declaration of war between England and France in 1793.
The first publication of poems by Wordsworth was the collection An Evening Walk and Descriptive published in 1793. In 1795, he received a legacy of 900 pounds from Raisley Calvert that allowed him to live with his younger sister, Dorothy. The same year, he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was an admirer of Wordsworth work. The two collaborated on Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798. The volume contained poems such as Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”. These began the Romanticism movement in English poetry. He also began writing The Prelude from this time. He produced other poetry, such as ‘Lucy’ and a preface for the second edition of Lyrical Ballads.
In 1802, Wordsworth was able to see Vallon and their daughter, Caroline. After returning to England, he wed Mary Hutchinson, who gave birth to the first of their five children in 1803. His poetry during the time included: the famous ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ and ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’. These pieces were published in another Wordsworth collection, Poems, in Two Volumes (1807). In 1813, he was named as a distributor of stamps and moved his family to a new home in the Lake District. After 1835, he wrote little more poetry. In 1842, he was given a government pension. In 1843, he became England’s poet laureate.
Wordsworth died on 23 April 1850 at the age of 80 at his home in Rydal Mount, Westmorland, England, and was buried in Grasmere churchyard. His epic autobiographical poem The Prelude, was published after his death.