William Wordsworth was an English Romantic poet born April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. He was only eight years old when his mother died, an event which greatly influenced his work. It was not many years later that his father died as well, leaving behind William and his four siblings. Wordsworth attended Hawkshead Grammar School, where he gained his first experience writing verse, and then studied at St. John’s College in Cambridge. During a walking tour of Europe, he experienced the French Revolution first-hand, an event which greatly influenced his writing and political views, and increased his desire to write for the “common man.”
In 1795, Wordsworth developed a friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, forming a writing partnership that greatly shaped the face of the Romantic Movement. Together they published Lyrical Ballads in 1798, a collection featuring Coleridge’s “Rhime of the Ancient Mariner” and Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey.” It was also around this time that Wordsworth began composing his autobiographical poem, The Prelude, a work that took the poet several decades to complete.
In 1802, Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson, raising five children together, although two of them died in 1812. In 1820, Wordsworth published The River Duddon, a work that finally gained some critical approval, and eventually, in 1843, he was named poet laureate to replace Robert Southey. William Wordsworth died April 23, 1850, in Rydal Mount, Westmorland, England. A few months later, his wife posthumously published Wordsworth’s epic work, The Prelude, which would eventually become considered the quintessential work of the Romantic Movement, despite the fact that contemporaries like Tennyson and Byron were more popular during his lifetime.