William Wordsworth, Lakeland poet



Wordsworth, one of the earliest and perhaps the greatest, of the English Romantic poets.

He was born in the Lake District in 1770 and died there in 1850. In fact the only spells he had outside the Lakes were

He was born April 7th, 1770 in the village of Cockermouth. Willaim's mother died when he was 8 and his father when he was 13. He was then separated from his sister for much of his childhood In 1779, he went to the grammar school at Hawkshead (a little southeast, in Lancashire), where he would spend the next eight years, lodging during the school year with Ann Tyson. His holidays holidays were often spent with his grandparents in Penrith (back in Cumberland).

Most of his best work was penned in the "great decade" from 1797 to 1897 -   Intimations of Immortality, lucy and Michael in 1800, Resolution and Independence in 1802. A prolific poet, he wrote 70,000 lines of verse, virually twice the amount of any other recognised poet

In 1808, the whole family moved to another house in Grasmere, Allan Bank, and then to Grasmere Rectory in 1811. Before making their final move to Rydal Lodge in 1813 . It was not a happy period for him, apart from the unsettling moves, he was estranged from Coleridge in 1810 and two of his five children, Catherine and Thomas, died in 1812.

His income now came from his position of Distributor of Stamps , a tax gatherer, for the region. Browning was not happy with his friend's new job "Just for a handful of silver he left us."

As he grew older he changed from a radical to a conservative. But he did become part of the Establishment, and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1843

His final years were spent at Rydal Mount, dying of pleurisy, worsened after a walk in the cold March weather, on April 23rd, 1850. Mary died 9 years later, and they are both buried in Grassmere chuchyard

Dove Cottage

Wordsworth's dove cottage

Dove Cottage dates from the early part of the 17th century. It was originally a small inn called, unsurprisingly,The Dove and Olive. It was on the old main road from Ambleside to Keswick, and was built of traditional local materials - plastered and limewashed stone walls, slate roof, stone chimney-stacks and small lattice windows. 

Wordsworth's association with Dove Cottage dates from his arrival with his sister Dorothy on 20 December 1799. He lived at Dove Cottage for about 8 years

Then in October 1802 William married Mary Hutchinson, and their three eldest children, John, Dora and Thomas, were born here.

Here he composed his poems. The family had a fairly spartan regieme, a simple diet  'three meals a day', remembered Sir Walter Scott, 'two of which were porridge'. Described also as "plain living and high thinking"

The Wordsworth Trust, founded in 1891, bought Dove Cottage 'for the eternal possession of those who love English poetry all over the world'. Today they still maintain Dove Cottage for the world to enjoy.

The Trust also is responsible for the village round Dove Cottage, which is a conservation area.

Wordsworth's  Circle of friends

Some of the best known figures in British literature were alive then, and many gravitated to become friends with the Wordsworths

Wordsworth Museum

The Trust runs the  Museum as well as Dove Cottage

The Museum tells you more about the man, his friends, his life and his works. There is a unique collection  of manuscripts, books and paintings, the Lake District and the great age of British Romanticism

Wordsworth signature

And link to two of Wordsworth's best known works


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