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William Wordsworth

Poet

Born: 7 April 1770
Died: 23 April 1850
Birthplace: Cockermouth, England
Best known as: The author of the poem "Tintern Abbey"
William Wordworth was one of the great Romantic poets of 19th-century England. His poems celebrated the glories of nature and the human spirit while using the simple language of the "common man" -- a radical idea for the time. Wordsworth studied at Cambridge University and then traveled in France during the Revolution, an experience which affected deeply his own political leanings. On his return to England he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and in 1798 they published the collection Lyrical Ballads. It included both Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," a rumination on man and nature inspired by the "steep and lofty cliffs" and "pastoral farms" around the stone ruins of the ancient church. Critics hooted at Wordworth's poems and his politics early in his career, but in later years he became accepted as a key voice in the Romantic movement. His other works include Poems in Two Volumes (1807) and The Excursion (1814). He was poet laureate of England from 1843 until his death in 1850. His autobiographical epic, "The Prelude," was published by his wife after his death.
Extra credit: Wordsworth's younger sister and close confidante Dorothy (1771-1855) was also an accomplished writer; he praised her lavishly in "Tintern Abbey"... While traveling in France, Wordsworth fathered a daughter, Caroline (b. 1792) with a woman named Annette Vallon; they were never married. In 1802 Wordsworth married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson... The title of the 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass (starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty) was taken from a line in Wordsworth's ode "Intimations of Immortality," which reads: "Though nothing can bring back the hour / Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower."

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