On this day in 1799, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy move into Dove Cottage in Westmoreland, England, not far from the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge had been good friends and colleagues since they met, in 1795. Their collaboration flourished, and in 1798 they published Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems, 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.
Wordsworth was born in 1770 in England’s Lake District. He lost his mother when he was 8 and his father five years later. Wordsworth attended Cambridge, then traveled in Europe, taking long walking tours with friends through the mountains.
While studying in France in 1891, he 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 Coleridge. 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. That year, 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.