William Wordsworth (1770-1850) belongs to the first generation of the English Romantic poets. He was born on 7th April, 1770 at Cockermouth, Cumberland in the Lake Districts of Northern England. He lost his mother only at the age of eight and his father at the age of thirteen. Thereafter he had to depend on the generosity of his relatives. He was sent to the Grammar School of Hawkshead in the heart of the Lake districts. In his boyhood he got close contact with the nature, which charmed him very much. At seventeen, he was sent to St. John’s College, Cambridge. He was a mediocre student and graduated from this college in 1791.
He had a great passion for travelling. During his student career, he traveled many places, including Cumberland, Yorkshire, France and Switzerland. However, he paid a second visit to France in November, 1791. The French Revolution was then at its height there and exercised a strong influence on his mind. He was filled with love and admiration for the ideals of the Revolution. But afterwards, he was greatly shocked by the bloody excesses of the Revolution. Disillusioned and depressed, he returned to England. Dorothy, his sister, accompanied him during his days of depression. She cheered him up and settled with him in a little cottage in Dorset. In 1795, he got a legacy of £900 settled upon him by a friend. It was enough to set him above want.
In the meantime, he met S. T. Coleridge and moved to Somerset in order to live near him. He left for Germany on a visit in 1798-99. Coming back he settled in the Lake District where he met Mary Hutchinson. He married her in 1802. Then in 1813, he moved with her and sister Dorothy to Rydal Mount where he lived for the rest of his life. But for his passion for travelling, he could not stay in peace. He visited Scotland several times.
Wordsworth began his poetic career in college life with Guilt and Sorrow (1791). While in university, he published An Evening Walk (1793). His first considerable work was the Lyrical Ballads (1798) published together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is regarded as a milestone in the history of English poetry. His other notable works are: Michael (1798), Tintern Abbey (1798), The Excursion (1814), The Prelude (1850) and the prose Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800) where he supports the need for a new kind of poetry that would be closer to nature and common human experiences.
He was offered the honorary D.C.L. (Doctor of Civil Law) degree by the Oxford University in 1839. He was awarded a Civil List Pension of £300 a year in 1842. On the death of Robert Southey in 1843, he was appointed the Poet Laureate of England. He breathed his last on 23rd April, 1850 and was buried in Grasmere churchyard.
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