William Wordsworth (1770-1850), poet. Born Cockermouth, Cumberland, educated Grammar School Hawkshead, St. John's College, Cambridge (1787-91). 1790, walking tour of France, Alps, Italy; returning to England, published two poems in 1793: An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches, and a Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff, (not published), in support of the French Republic, but the institution of the Terror found him disillusioned with the French Revolution, a depression mirrored in his verse drama The Borderers, composed 1796-97. Became acquainted with Coleridge and published Lyrical Ballads with him 1798 (enlarged 2nd ed., 1800). Lived at Goslar, Germany, 1798-99, beginning The Prelude. Settled with his sister Dorothy at Grasmere in 1799, to remain in the vicinity for the rest of his life. Tours in Scotland 1801 and 1803, began friendship with Sir Walter Scott. The Excursion published in 1814, The White Doe of Rylstone, two volumes of Miscellaneous Poems in 1815, and Peter Bell and The Waggoner in 1819, with Wordsworth gradually settling into the role of patriotic, conservative public man, abandoning the radical politics and idealism of his youth. Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) wrote of Wordsworth in 1835:
Up to 1820 the name of Wordsworth was trampled underfoot; from 1820 to 1830 it was militant; from 1830 to 1835 it has been triumphant.
By the late 1830s Wordsworth's celebrity was wide-spread and assured (although during the 1840s his popularity would briefly decline). In 1842 he published Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years; in 1843 he succeeded Southey as poet laureate; died at Rydal Mount, Ambleside, after the publication of a finally-revised text of his works: six volumes, 1849-50. The Prelude was published posthumously in 1850. (See Ruskin and Wordsworth)