Discovering the Man Behind the Poems: The Biography of William Wordsworth


William Wordsworth is widely known as one of the greatest English poets of all time. His poems have stood the test of time and continue to inspire readers with their beauty and depth. But who was the man behind these timeless works?

Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, in the picturesque town of Cockermouth, England. He was the second of five children and was raised by his father, a lawyer, and his mother, who passed away when he was only eight years old. This early loss had a profound impact on the young Wordsworth and would shape both his life and his poetry.

At the age of thirteen, Wordsworth was sent to school in Hawkshead, where he received a classical education. It was here that he discovered his love for poetry, under the guidance of a kind and knowledgeable teacher. He also spent much of his free time exploring the natural surroundings of the Lake District, which would become a major source of inspiration for his writing.

After completing his education, Wordsworth briefly attended St. John’s College, Cambridge but left without obtaining a degree. He then traveled to France, where he witnessed firsthand the French Revolution and became influenced by its ideals of freedom and equality.

Upon his return to England, Wordsworth reunited with his sister, Dorothy, and moved to rural Dorset. It was during this time that he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who would become his close friend and collaborator. Together, they published a collection of poems titled “Lyrical Ballads” in 1798, which marked the beginning of the Romantic movement in English literature.

Wordsworth’s poems in “Lyrical Ballads” celebrated ordinary people and everyday experiences, with a focus on the beauty of nature and the human imagination. This marked a significant departure from the traditional forms and subjects of poetry at that time.

In 1802, Wordsworth married his childhood friend Mary Hutchinson and they had five children together. However, their marriage was not without its difficulties. After the death of their firstborn daughter, Wordsworth experienced a period of depression and writer’s block, but eventually recovered and continued to write poetry.

Throughout his life, Wordsworth faced financial struggles and suffered personal losses, including the deaths of his brother and two of his children. However, he continued to write and publish his works, including notable poems such as “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” and “The Prelude,” an autobiographical poem that he worked on for most of his life.

Wordsworth’s writing had a profound impact on the Romantic movement, and he is often referred to as the father of English Romanticism. His poems celebrated the human mind and its connection to nature, paving the way for future poets and writers to explore similar themes.

In his later years, Wordsworth received recognition and fame for his poetry. He was appointed as the Poet Laureate of England in 1843, a title he held until his death in 1850. Today, his childhood home in the Lake District has been preserved as a museum and his poetry continues to be appreciated by readers around the world.

In conclusion, the life of William Wordsworth is a testament to the power of nature, love, and the human imagination. His poems capture the essence of the human experience and continue to inspire readers of all generations. As we continue to discover the man behind the poems, let us remember the words of Wordsworth himself: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”