William Wordsworth's I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, Essential Revision Notes
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Poet William Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. Wordsworth’s mother died when he was 7, and he was an orphan at 13. Despite these losses, he did well at Hawkshead Grammar School—where he wrote his first poetry—and went on to study at Cambridge University. He did not excel there, but managed to graduate in 1791.
Wordsworth had visited France in 1790—in the midst of the French Revolution—and was a supporter of the new government’s republican ideals. On a return trip to France the next year, he fell in love with Annette Vallon, who became pregnant. However, the declaration of war between England and France in 1793 separated the two. Left adrift and without income in England, Wordsworth was influenced by radicals such as William Godwin.
In 1795, Wordsworth received an inheritance that allowed him to live with his younger sister, Dorothy. That same year, Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The two became friends, and together worked on Lyrical Ballads (1798). The volume contained poems such as Coleridge's ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and Wordsworth's ‘Tintern Abbey’, and helped Romanticism take hold in English poetry.
The same year that Lyrical Ballads was published, Wordsworth began writing ‘The Prelude’, an epic autobiographical poem that he would revise throughout his life (it was published posthumously in 1850). While working on ‘The Prelude’, Wordsworth produced other poetry, such as ‘Lucy’. He also wrote a preface for the second edition of Lyrical Ballads; it described his poetry as being inspired by powerful emotions and would come to be seen as a declaration of Romantic principles.
In 1802, a temporary lull in fighting between England and France meant that Wordsworth was able to see Vallon and their daughter, Caroline. After returning to England, he...