Read his poem "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802"
Career: Poet, playwright, critic, essayist, and travel writer
Wordsworth was born in 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England, the second son of a prominent local aristocrat. Both of his parents died while he was young — his mother in 1778, and his father late in 1783. After his father's death Wordsworth and his three brothers were enrolled at a boarding school in Hawkeshead, and their sister Dorothy was sent to live with cousins in Halifax. In the rural surroundings of Hawkeshead, situated in the beautiful Lake District, Wordsworth developed a keen appreciation of nature that would inform much of his later writing. He was provided a formal education, and he early demonstrated a talent for poetic composition. Wordsworth began study at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1787. Graduating in 1791, but restless and without definite career plans, he lived for a short time in London and Wales and then traveled to France. The French Revolution was in its third year, and, although he previously had shown little interest in politics, he quickly came to embrace the ideals of the Revolution. During his stay in France he fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, and with her fathered a child, Anne-Caroline. Too poor to marry and forced by the outbreak of civil war to flee France, Wordsworth reluctantly returned alone to England in 1793.
Although troubled with feelings of despondency over the degenerating course of the Revolution and fears for the safety of Annette and his daughter, Wordsworth eventually settled with his sister at Racedown in 1795. A small legacy from a friend helped him to focus entirely on writing; living modestly but contentedly, he now spent much of his time reading contemporary European literature and writing verse. An important factor in Wordsworth's success was Dorothy's lifelong devotion: she encouraged his efforts at composition and looked after the details of their daily life. The most significant event of Wordsworth's literary apprenticeship occurred in 1797 when he met the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The two had corresponded for several years, and when Coleridge came to visit Wordsworth at Racedown, their rapport and mutual admiration were immediate. The Wordsworths soon moved to Nether Stowey in order to be near Coleridge. In the intellectually stimulating environment he and Coleridge created there, Wordsworth embarked on a period of remarkable creativity. Coleridge's influence on Wordsworth during this time was immense, and his astute critiques gave the young poet direction and fostered his artistic growth. Coleridge strove particularly to encourage Wordsworth's development as a visionary thinker capable of writing philosophical poetry. To that end, he introduced him to the writings of the philosopher David Hartley, whose theories had a profound effect on Wordsworth's poetry.
In 1802 Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson. By this time, the revolutionary and experimental fervor of his youth had been tempered. He condemned French imperialism in the period after the Revolution, and his English nationalism became more pronounced. The pantheism of his early nature poetry, too, gave way to orthodox religious sentiment in the later works. When Wordsworth accepted a post as distributor of stamps for Westmorland county, a political appointment that ensured his continued prosperity, his transformation seemed complete. Such admirers as Percy Bysshe Shelley, who formerly had respected Wordsworth as a reformer of poetic diction, now regarded him with scorn and a sense of betrayal. Coleridge grew estranged from Wordsworth after 1810. Wordsworth continued to write in his later years; having become a highly respected literary figure during the 1830s, he was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Durham and Oxford University, and in 1843 he won the distinction of being named Poet Laureate. After receiving a government pension in 1842, he retired to Rydal. One of England's best-loved poets in his day, Wordsworth died in 1850. His greatest work, The Prelude, was published shortly after his death.
Source: Exploring Poetry, Gale.