William Wordsworth (7th April 1770 – 23rd April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).
Wordsworth's most famous piece of work is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semi-autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, before which it was generally known as "the poem to Coleridge". Wordsworth was Britain's Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.
He was born in Cumbria, where he developed a love of nature, a theme which is reflected in most of his poetry. While studying at Cambridge University, Wordsworth spent a summer holiday on a walking tour in Switzerland and France. He became an enthusiast for the ideals of the French Revolution. He began to write poetry while he was at school, but none was published until 1793.
In 1795, Wordsworth received a legacy from a close relative and he and his sister Dorothy went to live in Dorset. Two years later they moved again, this time to Somerset, to live near the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was an admirer of Wordsworth's work. They collaborated on Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798. This collection of poems, mostly by Wordsworth but with Coleridge contributing The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is generally taken to mark the beginning of the Romantic movement in English poetry. The poems were greeted with hostility by most critics.
He continued to write poetry throughout his life, but his earliest works were his greatest. In 1842, he was given a government pension and the following year became poet laureate. Wordsworth died on 23 April 1850 and was buried in Grasmere churchyard.