William Wordsworth was born April 7th, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland. He attended school at Saint John’s College, University of Cambridge. He was said to have loved nature. During school breaks he visited places known for their scenic beauty. While in France, he fell in love with Annette Vallon. They had a daughter in December of 1770, shortly before he moved back to England.
Wordsworth had written poetry while he was still a schoolboy, but none of his poems were published until 1793.His first published poems were An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. These poems exhibit the influence of the formal way of poetry in England throughout the 18th century.
Wordsworth had met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a fellow poet, and in 1797 Woodsworth moved to Alfoxden, Somersetshire, alongside his sister Dorthy. Their residence was near Coleridge’s home in Nether Stowey. This move created a sustained friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge, and they both worked on a volume of poems entitled Lyrical Ballads, which was published 1798.
Lyrical Ballads is said to have indicated the beginning of the Romantic Movement in English poetry. Wordsworth wrote the majority of the poems in the book, such as “Tintern Abbey”. Coleridge’s main contribution was Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Lyrical Ballads was met with hostility from most critics, as it represented an uprising against contemporary English poetry.
In justification of his unconventional philosophy of poetry, Wordsworth wrote a “Preface” to the second edition of Ballads, which emerged in 1800. His idea was that the basis of poetic genuineness was the sincere occurrence of the sense. He said that poetry derives from “emotion recollected in tranquility.” He insisted that the scenes and actions of every-day life and the speech of common people were the basic material of which poetry should
Prior to his publication of the “Preface”, Wordsworth went with Coleridge to Germany in 1798-99. During this time period, Wordsworth wrote a number of his best lyrical verses. Many critics consider theses verses as Wordsworth’s greatest work.
William and his sister returned to England in 1799, and moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Westmorland. This area is near the English Lake District. Robert Southey, another poet, and Coleridge, lived nearby. Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge became known as the Lake Poets. Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson in 1802. She was a childhood friend, who was depicted in “She was a Phantom of Delight”. Poems in Two Volumes was published in 1807.
Wordsworth’s poetic ability and insight became dull as he became older. His later poetry cannot measure up to the poetry written during his youth.
Wordsworth was awarded a government pension in 1842. He died at Rydal Mount, on April 23rd in 1850. He was buried in the Grasmere cemetery.