William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.
William Wordsworth’s childhood home in the Lake District of England allowed him to explore nature. Many of his poetic ideas were drawn from this environment, key for a poet destined to become one of the most prolific romantic poets in literary history.
Wordsworth spent much of his youth unhappy. After his mother died when he was eight, William was separated from his sister and was not able to see her for nine years. The two had been close in their childhood.
Wordsworth was active politically. Wordsworth had been a democrat since childhood and supported the French Revolution. His belief in democracy led him to pen "Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff" (also called "Apology for the French Revolution").
Wordsworth's political ideals evolved over his lifetime. Though "A Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff" showed his belief in democracy and he remained a strong supporter of the French Revolution, Wordsworth would come to support "soft feudalism" later in life. "A Letter to Bishop of Llandaff" went unpublished during his lifetime, although the reasons why remain uncertain.
Wordsworth treated walking like work and used it as a compositional device. He took things he found in nature to shape his poetry.
Wordsworth habitually spent at least several hours a day walking, and it was not uncommon for him to spend entire days on foot. His sister Dorothy recorded the length of his (and their) walks, some of which covered 15 to 20 miles per day.
Lyrical Ballads was well received critically. It received 10 reviews, of which 3 were of poor opinion of the collection. Wordsworth’s contributions were praised, while Coleridge’s popular “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” received a majority of the scorn
Wordsworth famously collaborated with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Together, they published Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems that saw four different editions between 1798 and 1805.
In "Tintern Abbey" Wordsworth is using scenery in order to compare the past to the present, and to the future he imagines for his sister Dorothy. In this famous poem, Wordsworth is addressing his sister.
Correspondence between Wordsworth and his sister was often and lengthy. Together, they have more than 4,000 pages of letters to one another.