Born in 1770, William Wordsworth was one of the major English Romantic poets of his time, and he was inspired to write many of his most famous works while living in the Lake District.
One of five children, William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumbria. His father taught him the poetry of Shakespeare, Milton and Spenser, which gave him an early interest in writing. After the death of his mother in 1778, Wordsworth was sent to Hawkshead Grammar School in Cumbria, while his sister Dorothy (to whom he was close all his life) was sent to Yorkshire to live with relatives.
Wordsworth published his first work in 1787 – a sonnet in the European Magazine – and the same year he started attending St John´s College, Cambridge. He received his BA degree in 1791 and returned to Hawkshead for his first two summer holidays. He often spent later holidays on walking tours, visiting famous beauty spots in the Lake District.
His ‘Daffodils’ poem, written in 1804 and beginning “I wandered lonely as a cloud” is the quintessential Lake District poem. Wordsworth moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere in 1799 and then Rydal Mount in 1813. Both houses are still open to the public and attract visitors from all over the world.
Dove Cottage is situated in the heart of the Lake District and is the place where Wordsworth wrote some of his greatest poetry. His sister Dorothy kept her equally famous ´Grasmere Journal´ at Dove cottage, which is still on display in the museum. William found Dove Cottage by accident as he was out walking with his brother John and fellow poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He moved in with his sister, Dorothy just a few weeks later.
Such was his love of the Lake District that he described it as: “A sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”.
William Wordsworth died of pleurisy in April, 1850 at the age of 80 and was buried at St. Oswald´s Church in Grasmere. His widow Mary published his autobiographical ´poem to Coleridge´ as ´The Prelude´ just a few months after his death.
Some of Wordsworth’s most famous quotes include:
“How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold.”
“That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”
“Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.”
“The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.”
“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”
If you want to explore the Lake District in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, why not book a break in a Windermere spa hotel.