Wordsworth, William (17701850)

Wordsworth, William, poet, born at Cockermouth, of a Yorkshire stock; educated at Hawkshead Grammar School and at St. John's College, Cambridge; travelled in France at the Revolution period, and was smitten with the Republican fever, which however soon spent itself; established himself in the S. of England, and fell in with Coleridge, and visited Germany in company with him, and on his return settled in the Lake Country; married Mary Hutchinson, who had been a school-fellow of his, and to whom he was attached when a boy, and received a lucrative sinecure appointment as distributor of stamps in the district, took up his residence first at Grasmere and finally at Rydal Mount, devoting his life in best of the Muses, as he deemed, to the composition of poetry, with all faith in himself, and slowly but surely bringing round his admirers to the same conclusion; he began his career in literature by publishing along with Coleridge “Lyrical Ballads”; finished his “Prelude” in 1806, and produced his “Excursion” in 1814, after which, from his home at Rydal Mount, there issued a long succession of miscellaneous pieces; he succeeded Southey as poet-laureate in 1843; he is emphatically the poet of external nature and of its all-inspiring power, and it is as such his admirers regard him; Carlyle compares his muse to “an honest rustic fiddle, good and well handled, but wanting two or more of the strings, and not capable of much”; to judge of Wordsworth's merits as a poet the student is referred to Matthew Arnold's “Selections” (17701850).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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