Who was William Wordsworth

Known for its beautiful walks and breath – taking landscapes the Lake District is also famous for its connections with lake poet William Wordsworth. His connections to the lakes can be found in the bustling village of Grasmere.

William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770 in a fine Georgian house in Cockermouth, which is now known as Wordsworth House. William was one of four children with two brothers and sister Dorothy.

Wordsworth House - Home of William Wordsworth - Cockermouth

Much of William’s childhood was spent in Cockermouth and Penrith where he attended infant school. Attending infant school with William was his soon to be wife Mary Hutchinson. William attended the Grammar School in Hawkshead, where he received encouragement from his headmaster to read and write poetry. During this time, he made regular visits to the countryside to gather inspiration from nature. Pursing his career in poetry he attended St. Johns College in Cambridge, where he received a bequest of £900. This gave him the means to pursue his chosen career.

In 1797 the Wordsworths stayed in Alfoxden House, where they met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. In the years to follow a relationship between William and Coleridge grew. Soon after William and Coleridge undertook a tour of the lakes, starting at Temple Sowerby and finishing at Wasdale Head, via Grasmere. While in Grasmere they noticed Dove Cottage and an empty Inn called the Dove and Olive Branch.

Dove Cottage - Grasmere

Shortly after William and Dorothy moved into Dove Cottage, where they lived for the next nine years. Dorothy became William’s secretary as William dedicated his career and life to poetry. In 1802 William married Mary Hutchinson, and the first of their five children were born shortly after. The family outgrew Dove Cottage, so they moved to Allan Bank for two years, and then on to Rydal Mount.

Allan Bank - Grasmere

Rydal Mount - Rydal

William died in 1850 and Marty in 1859. Both William and Mary’s tombstones can be found in the churchyard of St. Oswald’s Church in the centre of Grasmere.

Tombstones of William and Mary Wordsworth

Wordsworth wrote over 70,000 lines of verse which is more than 40,000 lines more than any other poet. One of his most famous poems is ‘I wondered lonely as a cloud’. The poem is commongly known as daffodils and explores the poet’s friendship with nature, and how the memory of daffodils dancing cheers him up whenever he recalls them. Other poems include ‘Composed under Westminster Bridge’, ‘London 1802’, and ‘Tintern Abbey’.

To see more of Wordsworth’s visit https://interestingliterature.com/2017/03/06/10-of-the-best-william-wordsworth-poems-everyone-should-read/

Most of Wandsworth’s connections to Grasmere such as Dove cottage, Allan Bank, and Wordsworth House have been turned into museums or a National Trust attraction. Feel free to explore them on your next visit to the lakes, where you will find links for them below.

Dove Cottage: https://wordsworth.org.uk/

Allan Bank: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere

Wordsworth House and Garden: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wordsworth-house