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William Wordsworth Timeline
William Wordsworth was born on 7
April 1770 in a fine Georgian house
Wordsworth House. His father John
was estate agent to Sir James
Lowther, who owned the house. The
garden at the back, with the River
Derwent flowing past, was a place of
magic and adventure for the young
William. William has an elder brother
Richard, a younger sister Dorothy
and two younger brothers John and

Wordsworth dies.
William goes to Hawkshead


Father dies.
Responsibility for William and his brothers
arrangement for the children, who found
their guardian unsympathetic.

From 1779 until 1787 William
attended the Grammar School in
Hawkshead, lodging with Ann
Tyson initially, then with his
brothers. At Hawkshead William
headmaster to read and write
poetry. During these years he
countryside, gaining inspiration
exercised their influence.


1787 Begins University Wordsworth enrolls as a member of St. The young Lady to whom this was addressed was my Sister. There is not an image in it which I have not observed. John's College at Cambridge University. 1789 An Evening Walk. It was composed at school. a sonnet in The European Magazine. He publishes his first piece of writing. . and during my two first College vacations.

1790 Walking tour of France. Switzerland. and Germany .

In November.1791 Graduates from University. Wordsworth receives his bachelor's degree from Cambridge University.  . through whom he came to share the ideals of the French Revolution. who bore him a child. Whilst in Orléans he had an affair with Annette Vallon. He was befriended by Michel Beaupuy. he travels to France and is fascinated by the Republican movement.

leaving behind a pregnant Annette Vallon.December 1792 Leaves France before his first daughter is born. Wordsworth runs out of money and is forced to leave France. Vallon later gives birth to the couple's daughter Caroline. .

he began to give wholehearted support to the radical philosophy of Thomas Paine and William Godwin. Anglo-French War prevents his return to France until 1802.1793 Returns to England to earn money. In England. openly expressing their ideas in his .

Descriptive Sketches and An Evening Walk.1793 Begins publishing Wordsworth publishes his first poetry collections. .

1792." was taken from that beautiful region of which the principal features are Lungarn and Sarnen.1794 Descriptive Sketches. Much the greatest part of this poem was composed during my walks upon the banks of the Loire in the years 1791. I will only notice that the description of the valley filled with mist. Nothing that I ever saw in nature left a more delightful impression . beginning--"In solemn shapes.

. and the two become close friends. He meets fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. England with his sister Dorothy.1795 Moves to Dorset Wordsworth receives a small inheritance from a friend and sets up house in Dorset.


For a year. a period that proves to be a vital creative period for both of them. Wordsworth produces the poem "Tintern Abbey." and Coleridge writes "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.1797 Friendship with Coleridge. the two poets are in daily contact with one another. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy move closer to Coleridge." They collaborate on a .

we clearly discern THEMES AND TECHNIQUES evolving toward what is now thought of as quintessentially Wordsworthian.In March 1798. .Wordsworth’s first spring at Alfoxden House in a captivating rural setting overlooking the Bristol Channel.


Such accounts are sharply observed pictures of the natural world. . Many of these lyrics record the growth of the speaker’s perceptions as he creates and meditates upon his view of the world. expressed in everyday language.

As speakers move through the world. Later. in moments of darkness. Wordsworth fixates on vision and sight as the vehicles through which individuals are transformed. which they capture in their memories. the speaker daydreams of former jaunts through nature. The .VISION AND SIGHT Throughout his poems.” Here. as in “I wandered lonely as a cloud. which “flash upon that inward eye / which is the bliss of solitude” (21–22). they see visions of great natural loveliness. the speakers recollect these visions.

climbing to the top of a mountain in Wales allows the speaker to have a prophetic vision . as in “My heart leaps up” (1807). heard. In Book Fourteenth of The Prelude. rather than touched. Wordsworth describes the connection between seeing and experiencing emotion. or felt. in which the speaker feels joy as a result of spying a rainbow across the sky. Detailed images of natural beauty abound in Wordsworth’s poems. which focus on what can be seen. including descriptions of daffodils and clouds.Elsewhere.


It is the first mild day of March: Each minute sweeter than before. Our minds shall drink at every pore The spirit of the season. below. above. One moment now may give us more Than fifty years of reason. . The red-breast sings from the tall larch That stands beside our door. And from the blessed power that rolls About.


. The joy of the Alfoxden spring takes place amidst the poverty and anguish of neighboring common men and women.Equally characteristic of Wordsworth is that ‘pleasant thoughts / Bring sad thoughts to the mind’.

idiot boys. terrified and despairing convicts. . starving and freezing old women. shepherds reduced to public relief.The landscape of Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads poems is peopled not only by joyful poets of creative natural perceptions but by mad mothers. American Indian women abandoned to die.

Wordsworth merges his humanitarian concerns with an interest in the psychology not only of the victim but also of the poet-narrator who. interacting with the sufferer. .In the best of these poems. tells the tale.

Wordsworth and Coleridge publish Lyrical Ballads." free of the "gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers.“ The book sparks the Romantic Age of English literature. . a collection of poems written in "language really used by men.1798 Lyrical Ballads published.

. everyday language. They place an emphasis on the vitality of the living voice that the poor use to express their reality. learned and highly sculpted forms of 18th century English poetry and bring poetry within the reach of the average person by writing the verses using normal.Wordsworth and Coleridge set out to overturn what they considered the priggish.

. Even the title of the collection recalls rustic forms of art . while "ballads" are an oral mode of storytelling used by the common people.Using this language also helps assert the universality of human emotions.the word "lyrical" links the poems with the ancient rustic bards and lends an air of spontaneity.

They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purpose of poetic pleasure. Wordsworth explained his poetical concept: “The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments.” .In the 'Advertisement' included in the 1798 edition.

in which people led a purer and more innocent existence. One of the main themes of "Lyrical Ballads" is the return to the original state of nature. uneducated country people as the subject of poetry was a signal shift to modern literature. the focus on simple. .If the experiment with vernacular language was not enough of a departure from the norm.

.Wordsworth subscribed to Rousseau's belief that humanity was essentially good but was corrupted by the influence of society. This may be linked with the sentiments spreading through Europe just prior to the French Revolution.

The poem. a 24 line poesy. and is one of the most sought after poems chosen even for academic curriculums.Though all of William Wordsworth verses showcase his love for nature. . Daffodils. The poet has beautifully portrayed his imagination on the spotting of the dancing daffodils. stand out among the rest. which are more than a ten thousand. and takes the reader to a stride. talks of the poet’s sighting of a host of daffodils beside a lake.

you will find yourself being floated away like how William started the poem. “And then my heart with pleasure fills. and that the jocundity it brings along is inexpressible. And dances with the daffodils”.While the poet ends the poem with the note. .


and even that floating cloud all fuse in a vision of unity that encompasses the poet himself. the surrounding trees. a ‘laughing company’ of daffodils surrounds him. . as is a cloud that soars distantly above that world. Abruptly. the daffodils ‘dancing in the breeze’. The sparkling waves of Ullswater.The Daffodils opens with the speaker remote from the natural world.

They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude.But the ultimate importance of that visionary moment becomes apparent to him only years later: For oft when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood. . And then my heart with pleasure feels. And dances with the Daffodils.

Recollecting their childhoods gives adults a chance to reconnect with the visionary power and intense relationship they had with nature as children.MEMORY Memory allows Wordsworth’s speakers to overcome the harshness of the contemporary world. these memories encourage adults to re-cultivate as close a relationship with nature as possible as an antidote to . In turn.

.The act of remembering also allows the poet to write: Wordsworth argued in the 1802 preface to Lyrical Ballads that poetry sprang from the calm remembrance of passionate emotional experiences.

Instead. the initial emotion must be combined with other thoughts and feelings from the poet’s past experiences using memory and imagination. The poem produced by this time-consuming process will allow the poet to convey the essence of his emotional memory to his readers and will permit the readers to remember similar emotional .Poems cannot be composed at the moment when emotion is first experienced.

The first edition of Lyrical Ballads appeared in an edition of five hundred copies. with nineteen poems written by Wordsworth and four – including Rime of the Ancient Mariner – by Coleridge. .

’ . . . giving ‘the charm of novelty to things of every day’ and showing ‘the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us .Coleridge in Biographia Literaria (1817) recalled that he was to write on ‘persons and characters supernatural’. while Wordsworth would concentrate on subjects from ‘ordinary life’.

expressed in such feeble halting verse we have seldom seen’. ‘namby-pamby’ (British Critic). puerile thoughts. ‘namby-pamby’ (Edinburgh Review). ‘calculated to excite disgust and anger in a lover of poetry’ (Poetical . even down to some of the descriptive adjectives criticizing Wordsworth’s most personal poems: ‘flimsy. ‘an insult on the public taste’. ‘puerile beyond the power of imitation’ (Le Beau Monde).The reviews are remarkably similar. ‘nauseous and nauseating sensibilities to weeds and insects’. ‘a very paragon of silliness and affectation’. ‘false taste and puerile conceit’ (Critical Review).

silly. or uninteresting’. The poet. thundered Francis Jeffrey. similarly. was Wordsworth’s use of subjects that the ‘greater part of his readers will probably persist in thinking low. The reviewer in The Satirist wondered how anyone could think it worthwhile to write about his memories of some daffodils blowing about in the wind. as Francis Jeffrey wrote in the Edinburgh Review.The main problem. the writer for the Annual Review excoriated Wordsworth’s attaching of ‘exquisite emotions’ to objects in which no one else had the slightest interest. had .

” . with its archaic style and murky philosophical theme. Francis Jeffrey.Reviewers cited uninteresting subject themes and the unreadability of The Ancient Mariner. one of the chief reviewers for the influential Edinburgh Review. was so offended by Wordsworth's flaunting of poetic convention in the Lyrical Ballads that he engaged in a long and vitriolic campaign against what he termed the “Lake School of Poetry.

Lyrical Ballads (1800) appeared in two volumes. . the first one reissuing – with revisions – Lyrical Ballads (1798) and the second containing a somewhat uneasy mixture of the Grasmere poems of 1800 with the Goslar ones written in 1798–9. The second edition of the book shows Wordsworth’s name as the author.

. a PREFACE providing a lengthy theoretical justification for the works to follow. Wordsworth’s unshakeable faith in his own greatness and originality created the Preface to Lyrical Ballads to instruct his readers how to read those poems.Paramount among those changes made in the first volume of 1800 was Wordsworth’s addition to it of a critical manifesto.

.Wordsworth defines poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”. He also explains his views on the elements on modern poetry.

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.

Wordsworth explained in the
Preface that he sought to use
vernacular language and to write
about simple uneducated country
people as that, to him, was a
language than the more formal
poetic diction of his day, which he
thought artificial and insufficient
to "celebrate" the beauty of the
natural world.

He also said:
"The majority of the following
poems are to be considered as
experiments. They were written
chiefly with a view to ascertain
conversation in the middle and
adapted to the purpose of poetic

MAJOR ARGUMENTS On the 'Subject and Language of Poetry': "The principal object […] was to choose incidents and situations from common life. and they may also be contemplated and communicated better than any . which is built upon elementary feelings.“ Wordsworth justifies this by adding that our elementary feelings and passions can grow better in a field of rural life.

more in connection with nature. He also claims that such a language is more permanent and philosophical because it results from "repeated experience and regular feelings". The rural men far from social vanity use their language to express feelings in a simple and unelaborated manner. ."[D]escribe [those incidents] […] in a selection of language really used by men.

“ "[M]ake these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them." . whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way. the primary laws of our nature."[T]hrow over them a certain colouring of imagination. truly though not ostentatiously.

" . industrial society's mass media and mass culture were threatening to blunt the human mind's "discriminatory powers“ and to "reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. not only as a turning point in English criticism but also as a central document in modem culture.But in the long view other aspects of his Preface have been no less significant in establishing its importance. Wordsworth feared that a new urban.

that is.He attributed to imaginative literature the primary role in keeping the human beings who live in such societies emotionally alive and morally sensitive. . could keep humans essentially human. Literature.

"the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recollected in tranquility". .The Preface also contains his now famous definition of poetry as being.

In his concentration on nature. such as in landscape gardening. could then be considered a suitable subject for art and poetry. Wordsworth showed love of nature at its most sublime. . of mountains and of wild scenery. and this was in sharp contrast to the view that nature only after it had been manipulated by human hands.

Coleridge soon went his own way and spent much of his time in university towns. Dorothy and William lived in Goslar where Wordsworth began his work on The Prelude and other famous poems such as The Lucy Poems. Dorothy and Coleridge then began their voyage to Germany where they encountered a terrible winter in 1789-1799. .1798-99 William.

Wordsworth lives in Grasmere for the rest of his life.1799 Return to the Lake District William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy move back to Lake District and settle in the village of Grasmere. . During his life Wordsworth calls the unpublished work the "poem to Coleridge." it is later known as The Prelude. He has begun work on an autobiographical poem about his experience in France.



The final edition of the Wordsworth Lyrical Ballads was published in 1805. .

a schoolmate and longtime friend. .1802 Family Matters William and Dorothy Wordsworth travel to France so that Wordsworth can meet his daughter—Caroline—and make arrangements for her support with Annette Vallon. When he returns to England. Wordsworth marries Mary Hutchinson.

1805 Prelude Finished. 33-yearold John Wordsworth. dies in a shipwreck. William's younger brother. a long piece for which the "poem to Coleridge" would be a prologue. . Brother Dies Wordsworth finishes his "poem to Coleridge" but refuses to publish it until he has completed The Recluse .


Wordsworth publishes the collection Poems in Two Volumes. and he hoped this collection would cement his reputation.1807 Poems in Two Volumes. Its reception was ." Up to this point Wordsworth was known publicly only for Lyrical Ballads. The book contains the poem " Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood .


His sister Dorothy continued to live with Wordsworth. along with his new wife and her sister. who had moved to the Lake District with his wife.  . They were often visited by Coleridge. and who had become emotionally involved with Sara Hutchinson. Sara Hutchinson.

When Coleridge moves out of Wordsworth's home in May and learns that Wordsworth warned a mutual friend against taking him in.1810 Wordsworth is growing estranged from Coleridge. and feels burdened by his care. The men reconcile a few years later but are never as close as they once were. he is distraught. who is addicted to opium. .

. The family moves to Rydal Mount. the Grasmere home where he lives out the rest of his life.1813 Wordsworth Gets a Job Wordsworth is appointed Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland. a civil position that pays him a salary of about 400 pounds per year.


He continued to be criticized for his low subjects and ‘simplicity’. which aroused little interest. Thereafter he became more interested in reworking. 9000 lines of poetry in nine volumes. ordering and anthologizing his work in various collected editions.In 1814 Wordsworth published The Excursion.  .

1819 Peter Bell and The Waggoner. 1820 We Are Seven and Duddon (sonnets).1815 The White Doe of Rylstone. The River . Preface to Lyrical Ballads revised.




1822 Ecclesiastical Sketches. 1825 Yarrow Revisited. . and Other Poems.

1828 Tours the Rhineland with Coleridge. .

1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge dies. .1829 Dorothy Gets Sick Dorothy Wordsworth comes down with a serious illness that renders her an invalid until her death in 1855.

In 1839 he also received a civil pension of £300 a year from the government.1839 Honorary Degree William Wordsworth receives an honorary degree from Oxford University." Towards the end of his life. . repeated over and over. his disillusionment with the French revolution had made him more conservative in outlook. to "thunders of applause.


1842 Poems. Chiefly and Late Years. of Early .

Wordsworth is the only Poet Laureate who never wrote poetry during his time as Poet Laureate. despite saying he wouldn't write any poetry as poet laureate. Wordsworth was persuaded to become the nation's poet laureate. .1843 Poet Laureate Wordsworth is named Poet Laureate of England.

Oswald's Church in Grasmere.April 23. and some still feel this way today. Wordsworth received several great honors which some may find quite surprising due to the fact he didn't write as much as other poets. He is buried in St. . he was considered by many to be one of the greatest poets in the world. Later in life. 1850 Wordsworth Dies William Wordsworth dies of pleurisy. When Wordsworth died.




. the autobiographical poem now considered to be Wordsworth's masterpiece.A few months after his death. Mary Wordsworth publishes The Prelude.

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

He never gave it a title. he called it the "Poem (title not yet fixed upon) to Coleridge" and in his letters to Dorothy Wordsworth referred to it as "the poem on the growth of my own mind. its final name given to it by his ." The poem was unknown to the general public until published three months after Wordsworth's death in 1850.

leaving no more than fragments of the rest. The Recluse. Though Wordsworth planned this project when he was in his late 20s. he went to his grave at 80 years old having written to some completion only The Prelude and the second part (The Excursion). .The poem was intended as the prologue to a long three-part epic and philosophical poem.

their joint intent being to surpass John Milton's Paradise Lost. it would have been approximately three times longer than Paradise Lost (33.000 lines versus 10.Wordsworth planned to write this work together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.500). . Had The Recluse been completed.

Nature. as having for its principal subject.Often. was: "to compose a philosophical Poem. Wordsworth commented that he was plagued with agony because he failed to finish the work In the 1850 introduction. inspired by his "dear friend" Coleridge. containing views of Man. in his letters. and to be entitled the Recluse. the sensations and opinions of a poet living in . and Society. Wordsworth explains what the original idea.

But its focus and mood present a sharp fundamental fall away from the neoclassical and into the Romantic." Wordsworth chooses his own .The work is a poetic reflection on Wordsworth's own sense of his poetic vocation as it developed over the course of his life. Whilst Milton (mentioned by name in line 181 of Book One) in Paradise Lost rewrites God's creation and The Fall of Man so as to "justify the ways of God to man.

] is the Vale of Grasmere. Wordsworth's Prelude opens with a literal journey [during his manhood] whose chosen goal [.This spiritual autobiography evolves out of Wordsworth's "persistent metaphor [that life is] a circular journey whose end is 'to arrive where we started / And know that place for the first time’.. ..

such literal journeys become the metaphorical vehicle for a spiritual journey —the quest within the poet's memory [.. In the course of the poem. the climactic ascent of Snowdon.]". most notably the crossing of the Alps in Book VI and. .The Prelude narrates a number of later journeys. in the beginning of the final book..

and which continue to resonate with new meanings many years after the events. .'SPOTS OF TIME' important moments in The Prelude are for Wordsworth past experiences through which he can trace his own development. as a man and as a poet.

such as guilt after stealing a rowing boat. horse riding or climbing a mountain. Others come in response to a particular feeling. or a time of emotional intensity. such as ice-skating. . such as the death of his father.Many of Wordsworth's 'spots of time' arise out of moments of activity.

like a living thing. I struck. and struck again. and still. ls 372-427) This spot of time is a good example of the way in which Wordsworth projects his own feelings onto a landscape. . With measured motion. which eventually become 'the trouble of my dreams'. His feeling of 'troubled pleasure' on stealing the boat is given substance by the looming mountains. Rose up between me and the stars.Stealing a boat (Book I. growing still in stature. Strode after me. And. the huge Cliff.

Meanwhile. The leafless trees. and every icy crag Tinkled like iron . It describes ice-skating on frozen Esthwaite Water at night. ls 452-489) This is a memory from Wordsworth's school days.Ice-skating (Book I. the precipices rang aloud. And not a voice was idle. The centre of the experience is the way in which the people and the landscape are all involved: So through the darkness and the cold we flew. with the din.

. ls 1-119) This is the imaginative vision with which the poem concludes.Climbing Snowdon (Book XIII. Here Wordsworth moves from describing the sights and sounds of the scene to imagining what might lie behind it.

Grand in itself alone.. A deep and gloomy breathing-place. the Imagination of the whole. had Nature lodged The Soul. through which Mounted the roar of waters. The universal spectacle throughout Was shaped for admiration and delight. streams Innumerable.. but in that breach Through which the homeless voice of waters rose.. torrents. a fracture in the vapour. . roaring with one voice. and from the shore At distance not the third part of a mile Was a blue chasm. That dark deep thoroughfare.

Wordsworth’s Achievement .

was important to Wordsworth. and to explore the belief that nature can have an impact on our emotional and spiritual lives. . but he rarely uses simple descriptions. He uses his poetry to look at the relationship between nature and human life.NATURE: in all its forms. Instead he concentrates on the ways in which he responds and relates to the world.

nature provides the ultimate good influence on the human mind. Wordsworth repeatedly emphasizes the importance of nature to an individual’s intellectual and spiritual development.Throughout Wordsworth’s work. elevated thoughts and passionate emotions in the people who observe these manifestations. A good relationship with nature helps individuals connect . All manifestations of the natural world— from the highest mountain to the simplest flower—elicit noble.

Humanity’s innate empathy and nobility of spirit becomes corrupted by artificial social conventions as well as by the squalor of city life. In such poems as “The World Is Too Much with Us” (1807) and “London.As Wordsworth explains in The Prelude. In contrast. people who spend a lot of time in nature. 1802” (1807) people become selfish and immoral when they distance themselves from nature by living in cities. such as laborers and . a love of nature can lead to a love of humankind.

This democratic view emphasizes . For instance. regardless of an individual’s class or background. the speaker in “Tintern Abbey” (1798) relieves his loneliness with memories of nature. Using memory and imagination.THE POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND Wordsworth praised the power of the human mind. while the leech gatherer in “Resolution and Independence” (1807) perseveres cheerfully in the face of poverty by the exertion of his own will. The transformative powers of the mind are available to all. individuals could overcome difficulty and pain.

Wordsworth explained the relationship between the mind and poetry. the mind transforms the raw emotion of experience into poetry capable of giving pleasure. and artistic rights of the individual. Wordsworth showed strong support for the political. religious.Throughout his work. including the power of his or her mind. In the 1802 preface to Lyrical Ballads. Later poems. such as “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” . Poetry is “emotion recollected in tranquility”—that is.

active force that works alongside our senses. interpreting the way we view the world and influencing how we react to events.IMAGINATION Wordsworth saw imagination as a powerful. his intense imaginative effort translates into the great visionary moments of his work . Often in Wordsworth's poetry. He believed that a strong imaginative life is essential for our well-being.

and the drive for economic prosperity led to an increase in both urban and rural poverty. but this is not quite a fair reflection. the right to justice. Society was undergoing huge changes. He supported social reform and believed in what were popularly known as The Rights of Man. Wordsworth explores the impact of such changes . his experiences and his development.SOCIETY Wordsworth is often considered to be an egocentric poet interested only in himself. the rights to individual freedoms of thought and expression.

his friends and family were an important source of support and inspiration. and. he wrote. 'She gave me eyes. Of his sister Dorothy. she gave me ears'. by his own admission.RELATIONSHIPS Wordsworth was not living and working in isolation. the best two lines in the poem I wandered lonely as a cloud were by his wife Mary. .

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were among the first British poets to explore the new theories and ideas that were sweeping through Europe. Their poems display many characteristics of Romanticism:   .

a sensitive. or cultivating. Exploring the relationship between nature and human life. emotional and intuitive way of understanding the world). This meant having.An emphasis on the emotions (a fashionable word at the beginning of the period was ‘sensibility’. .

An interest in mythological.A stress on the importance of personal experiences and a desire to understand what influences the human mind. A belief in the power of the imagination. fantastical. gothic and supernatural themes. .

An emphasis on the sublime (this word was used to describe a spiritual awareness. which could be stimulated by a grand and awesome landscape). Social and political idealism. .

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