William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 at Cockermouth, Cumberland, Kingdom of Great Britain¬†in the English Lake District and was the second son of John Wordsworth, a country solicitor and estate agent to Lord Lonsdale and came from stock originally derived from Yorkshire. From his infancy Wordsworth was surrounded by beautiful objects of Nature like hills, meadows, lakes and streams and these had a profound effect on his character. He was brought up amongst middle-class yeomen, graziers, country lawyers and this instilled in him a lifelong sympathy for the simple rustic peasant folk. By the age of fourteen Wordsworth had lost both his parents. He was educated first at Hawkeshead, fifteen miles away from Cockermouth, and later at St John’s College, Cambridge from where he graduated. As a young boy he an adult he was an enthusiast of the school of sensibility and a champion of the French Revolution. He travelled to France and became friendly with members of the Griondist Party but was deeply hurt and disappointedwhen the Revolution took a violent turn and unleashed a reign of terror. To add to his despair, England declared war on France and he sought solace in the philosophy of Godwin and David Hartley.

In 1795 he met Coleridge and they became close friends. This friendship was mutually beneficial as both wrote their best work in those years of friendship. In 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge jointly published the Lyrical Ballads which included ‘Tintern Abbey’ by Wordsworth and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Coleridge. The Lyrical Ballads marked the beginning of what is know as the Romantic Revival in English Literature. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy settled at dove College, Grasmere and later at Rydal mount in the Lake District which is now associated with him. In 1802 he married Anne Hutchinson and in 1805 he completed The Prelude. He became Poet Laureate in 1843 after the death of Robert Southey.

Wordsworth wrote for nearly 40 after the his best work belongs to the period between 1798-1808. As a poet he is remembered for his simple style which was a reaction against the neoclassical rigidity of from and content of the preceding Augustan Age or the Age of Pope and dryden. He re-ushered spontaneity in literature based on emotion, passion and sensibility. For Wordworth, however, poetry was more than a sensuous presentation. He sought a mystical visionary interpretation of Nature. His poetry also showed new and intense interest in ‘men as they are, men within themselves!’ Thus he is a poet of both man and Nature and has been described by Arnold as ‘the greatest poet after Shakespeare.’