April 7

This Day in History

Literary

Apr 7, 1770:

William Wordsworth is born

William Wordsworth, one of the founders of the Romantic school of poetry, is born.

Born near England's Lake District in 1770, Wordsworth lost his mother when he was eight and his father five years later. He attended Cambridge, then traveled in Europe, taking long walking tours with friends through the mountains.

While studying in France in 1791, Wordsworth fell in love and had a daughter. Intending to marry the mother, he returned to England to straighten out problematic financial matters, but a series of events prevented their reunion.

During his 20s, Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy and developed a close working partnership with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Together they published Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems in 1798, launching the Romantic movement. The book, which included Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, sold out within two years. The book's second edition included a preface by the authors, which became an important manifesto of Romantic poetry.

In 1802, after years of living on a modest income, Wordsworth came into a long-delayed inheritance from his father and was able to live comfortably with his sister. He married their longtime neighbor Mary Hutchinson and had five children. The poet's stature grew steadily, though most of his major work was written by 1807. In 1843, he was named poet laureate of England, and he died in 1850, at the age of 80.

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