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.


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

1790 Walking tour of France. Switzerland. and Germany .

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

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

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. openly expressing their ideas in his . In England.1793 Returns to England to earn money.

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

1794 Descriptive Sketches. Nothing that I ever saw in nature left a more delightful impression . 1792. 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. beginning--"In solemn shapes." was taken from that beautiful region of which the principal features are Lungarn and Sarnen.

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


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

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


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.Such accounts are sharply observed pictures of the natural world.

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

rather than touched. Wordsworth describes the connection between seeing and experiencing emotion. heard. which focus on what can be seen. or felt.Elsewhere. including descriptions of daffodils and clouds. In Book Fourteenth of The Prelude. as in “My heart leaps up” (1807). 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. climbing to the top of a mountain in Wales allows the speaker to have a prophetic vision .


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


. 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’.

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

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

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

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. . They place an emphasis on the vitality of the living voice that the poor use to express their reality. everyday language.Wordsworth and Coleridge set out to overturn what they considered the priggish.

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

Wordsworth explained his poetical concept: “The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. 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.In the 'Advertisement' included in the 1798 edition.” .

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

.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.

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

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


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

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. They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude. . And dances with the Daffodils.

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

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.Poems cannot be composed at the moment when emotion is first experienced. 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 .

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

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

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

silly. 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. had . as Francis Jeffrey wrote in the Edinburgh Review. The poet. similarly. was Wordsworth’s use of subjects that the ‘greater part of his readers will probably persist in thinking low. the writer for the Annual Review excoriated Wordsworth’s attaching of ‘exquisite emotions’ to objects in which no one else had the slightest interest.The main problem. thundered Francis Jeffrey. or uninteresting’.

” . one of the chief reviewers for the influential Edinburgh Review.Reviewers cited uninteresting subject themes and the unreadability of The Ancient Mariner. with its archaic style and murky philosophical theme. Francis Jeffrey. 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.

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. a PREFACE providing a lengthy theoretical justification for the works to follow.Paramount among those changes made in the first volume of 1800 was Wordsworth’s addition to it of a critical manifesto. .

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

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

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. and they may also be contemplated and communicated better than any .MAJOR ARGUMENTS On the 'Subject and Language of Poetry': "The principal object […] was to choose incidents and situations from common life.

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. more in connection with nature. .

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

" . not only as a turning point in English criticism but also as a central document in modem culture. Wordsworth feared that a new urban.But in the long view other aspects of his Preface have been no less significant in establishing its importance. 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.

that is. . Literature.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.

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

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. .In his concentration on nature. Wordsworth showed love of nature at its most sublime. could then be considered a suitable subject for art and poetry. such as in landscape gardening.

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

He has begun work on an autobiographical poem about his experience in France." it is later known as The Prelude. During his life Wordsworth calls the unpublished work the "poem to Coleridge. . 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.



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

a schoolmate and longtime friend. . When he returns to England. Wordsworth marries Mary Hutchinson.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.

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


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


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

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

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


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

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




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

.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.

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


Chiefly and Late Years.1842 Poems. 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.

When Wordsworth died. and some still feel this way today.April 23. 1850 Wordsworth Dies William Wordsworth dies of pleurisy. he was considered by many to be one of the greatest poets in the world. Oswald's Church in Grasmere. 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. Later in life. .




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

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

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.He never gave it a title." The poem was unknown to the general public until published three months after Wordsworth's death in 1850. its final name given to it by his .

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

000 lines versus 10. their joint intent being to surpass John Milton's Paradise Lost. it would have been approximately three times longer than Paradise Lost (33.500). .Wordsworth planned to write this work together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Had The Recluse been completed.

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

But its focus and mood present a sharp fundamental fall away from the neoclassical and into the Romantic.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." Wordsworth chooses his own .

] is the Vale of Grasmere. ..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’. Wordsworth's Prelude opens with a literal journey [during his manhood] whose chosen goal [..

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

'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. . and which continue to resonate with new meanings many years after the events.

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

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

with the din. And not a voice was idle. Meanwhile.Ice-skating (Book I. and every icy crag Tinkled like iron . ls 452-489) This is a memory from Wordsworth's school days. The leafless trees. It describes ice-skating on frozen Esthwaite Water at night. 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. the precipices rang aloud.

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

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

Wordsworth’s Achievement .

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

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

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

Using memory and imagination. For instance. the speaker in “Tintern Abbey” (1798) relieves his loneliness with memories of nature. 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. regardless of an individual’s class or background. This democratic view emphasizes .THE POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND Wordsworth praised the power of the human mind. individuals could overcome difficulty and pain.

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

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

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

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

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:   .

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

gothic and supernatural themes.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. An interest in mythological.

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

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