William Wordsworth was one of the greatest Romantic poets of the early 19th century. He is considered a Lake District poet, named for the area in England where he lived.
Wordsworth was born in 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. His mother died when he was 8 years old, which had a profound effect on him. He was educated at Hawkshead Grammar School, during which time his father also died. Wordsworth then continued his studies in St. John's College at Cambridge. Just before he left St. John's, Wordsworth took the grand tour of the continent and visited Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. He returned to France in 1791 and was inspired by the French Revolution.
Wordsworth befriended Samuel Taylor Coleridge around 1795, and they collaborated on "Lyrical Ballads," which was published in 1798. Wordsworth's poetry differed from Coleridge's in that it concerned everyday incidents and objects described in simple language. However, his poems such as "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollection of Early Childhood," and "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," reveal a more elevated language. He considered his long, autobiographical poem "The Prelude" his masterpiece.
Wordsworth married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson, in 1802 and settled in the Lake District. They had five children. Queen Victoria named Wordsworth poet laureate in 1843. He died on Apr. 23, 1850.