Famous Cumbrians: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

A leading figure in the Romantic movement, Wordsworth wrote poetry inspired by strong emotion, but ‘remembered in tranquillity’. Born in Cockermouth and educatedWilliam Wordsworth at 28 by William Shuter 1798 Copyright expired in Penrith and Hawkshead, Wordsworth lived in France as a young man immediately before the French Revolution, developing radical ideas and a mistress and child. Wordsworth returned to the Lake District in 1799 to live in Dove Cottage (open to the public) in Grasmere, and I believe received wisdom amongst poetry-philes is that he became increasingly conservative, which probably explains how this one-time radical could become Poet Laureate.

Perhaps his most famous words, written about an Ullswater spring, are:

            ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud

            That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

            When all at once I saw a crowd,

            A host of golden daffodills…’

Despite his strong association with the Lake District, in fact he had a major problem with train-loads of ‘the lower classes’ coming to the Lake District to visit. He loved it for its wildness and isolation and would have been happy if the tourists had never discovered it! He accused the railway companies of inventing reasons for

‘…the humbler classes to leave their homes. Accordingly, for the profit of the shareholder and that of the lower class of Innkeepers, we should have wrestling matches, horse and boat races without number and pot houses and beer shops would keep pave with these excitements and… the injury which would thus be done to morals, both among this influx of strangers and the lower class of inhabitants is obvious.’

I wonder why the Lake District tourist industry never mentions this!

In 1813, the Wordsworths moved to Rydal Mount (open to the public) in Ambleside. William was appointed Poet Laureate in 1843. He died in 1850, and is buried at St. Oswald’s, Grasmere.

©Diane McIlmoyle 12.11.10


2 thoughts on “Famous Cumbrians: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

  1. Pingback: Dunmail, last King of Cumbria – 945CE | Esmeralda's Cumbrian History & Folklore

  2. Pingback: The Claife Crier, Windermere’s famous spook | Esmeralda's Cumbrian History & Folklore

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