Poem of Quotes - Poetry, Quotations, and Relationships
Home > Poets > 18th Century > William Wordsworth > William Wordsworth Biography

Biography of William Wordsworth

An image of William Wordsworth

On April 7, 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland (Located in the scenic northwest England Lake District) William Wordsworth was born as the second of five children. His father, John, was a well-educated liberal who encouraged his children to be the same.

As a disorderly child, William had many problems with his family. The only ally he had was his one-year younger sister, Dorothy.

For the first eight years of William's life, it was a happy one. It was not until the premature death of his mother in 1778 that William had problems.

William's father sent him to Hawkshead Grammar School, which was quite distant from the family. There, his athletic abilities would shine.

In 1783, William's father passed away. His total estate was worth £10,485; however most was in unpaid debts. The Earl of Lowther owed nearly £4,500. It was not until nineteen years later in 1802 that his son paid it.

Due to their father's death, the children were sent to two uncles to be taken care of. The uncles paid for William's education at St John's College, Cambridge in 1787, where he would leave after just one year and follow a different course.

In 1790, William made his first trip to France, which was in its early stages of revolution, before graduating. After graduation, he returned to visit the Alps and Italy. However, it was in France that he found fascination by its Republican ideology.

It was at Orleans where he met an attractive young woman named Annette Vallon in 1792. Annette was a royalist and Roman Catholic, however their love did not stop. Before Wordsworth's return to England in hopes of earning an income, Vallon became pregnant with his first child, Caroline.

Wordsworth returned to England in hopes of later marrying Vallon. By this time, the Reign of Terror had started and many British were being slaughtered in France.

In England, Wordsworth began raising money to publish his poems Descriptive Sketches, a very pro-revolutionary piece, and An Evening Walk. The poems were unsuccessful; however, he received a sum of £900 from a friend to focus solely on writing. With that and the money earned from watching his friend's son, Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, began living together in a small cottage (At this time an incestuous relationship is said to have happened, if not earlier).

That same year, Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. In addition, in 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth published a join volume of poetry called Lyrical Ballads.

Lyrical Ballads helped start the English Romantic movement. Wordsworth's most notable poem in the piece is Tintern Abbey.

William, Dorothy and Coleridge then began their voyage to Germany where they encountered a terrible winter in 1789-1799. In Germany, Dorothy and William lived in Goslar where Wordsworth began his work on The Prelude and other famous poems such as The Lucy Poems.

The two then moved back to the Lake District in England, but this time in Grasmere. By this time, Southey lived nearby having the public nickname the three, Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge, the "Lake Poets." Much of Wordsworth's poetry at this time was themed of death, endurance, separation and grief.

Continue reading: William Wordsworth biography

Poems by William Wordsworth


Next: Francisco Balagtas