Home » William Wordsworth – A Victorian Genius

William Wordsworth – A Victorian Genius

A romanticist in the Victorian Era, William Wordsworth has given the world of English literature some of the most beautiful pieces of writings. He served as the leader of the romanticism movement. Wordsworth is known for his notion “return to nature” as he strongly believed in the idea that all poetry comes from nature and that all poets should look for inspiration in their environment. Although poetry is strictly subjective, William Wordsworth is considered as one of the best poets of all times.

Early Life

Born to an attorney on the 7th of April in 1770, William Wordsworth enjoyed the privilege of having a satisfactory and happy childhood, unlike his many predecessors and contemporaries. He drew inspiration from the poet he most admired, John Milton, who penned the timeless epic Paradise Lost. Wordsworth also spent some time in France to study French, where he met Annette Vallon, a local French girl, who went on to be the mother of their child. However, having exhausted his funds, Wordsworth was compelled to leave France and return to England. He later married Mary Hutchinson in 1802 and had five children with her.

Literary Contribution

William Wordsworth has 386 published poems. All his poems are enjoyed by readers not only in England but everywhere in the world, including non-native English-speaking countries like India and France. His first joint romantic work ‘Lyrical Ballads,’ written by both Wordsworth and Coleridge is still studied by literature students across the world. Apart from writing poems, William Wordsworth also served as a literary critic, though his critique was not approved by every reader, including his long-term best friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who made it a point to mock Wordsworth’s view on poetry in his critical essay called Biographia Literaria.   

Revolutionary Leadership

Wordsworth lived in the Romantic Age, where human emotions had started getting more importance than spirituality in literature. He was one of the first ones to initiate the beginning of romanticism, a literary movement supporting nature poems. The aforementioned term ‘return to nature’ holds significant importance in the literary field. This very revolutionary thought shaped the future of literature as writers then began looking for inspiration in their surroundings. The term was introduced in one of Wordsworth’s poems titled Expostulation and Reply, which is a conversation poem set between William and his friend, Matthew.

Transformation in Style

Leaving Annette and his daughter, Caroline, in France left a negative impact on Wordsworth’s writing style. He went on to write about the issues faced by women who have been abandoned. The French Revolution, too, greatly affected the transformation of Wordsworth’s writing style. Although Wordsworth never really wrote out-and-out political poems, his poems like Upon Westminster Bridge and London, 1802 prominently display the blend of both his political views and love for nature.    

End of Journey

Having lost his dear friend, Coleridge, Wordsworth had difficulty focusing on his work. As a result, during his final years, Wordsworth had seemed to have lost his poetic charm as he failed to publish poetry that intrigued the masses. Poet Laureate, William Wordsworth passed away in the year 1850. His death was caused by pleurisy. His autobiography, The Prelude, was later published by his wife, Mary Hutchinson.

Quotes by William Wordsworth

Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.

The ocean is a mighty harmonist.

The Solitary Reaper – William Wordsworth

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud – William Wordsworth