Wordsworth: Tintern Abbey and Lyrical Ballads

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Born in 1770 at Cockermouth in the heart of the Lakes District in England. William Wordsworth grew up in a rustic society and his beautiful and ageless poetry often reflect this. Wordsworth's mother died in 1778 and in 1779 he was sent to grammar school in Hawkshead. Wordsworth's father died in 1783, leaving his uncles as guardians. They tried to guide him towards a career in law or in the church and he was accepted into Cambridge in 1787. Wordsworth was uninspired to work towards a career he had little interest in and subsequently his grades, which bordered on the average, reflected this. Before completing his final term of college Wordsworth went for a walking tour of Europe and finally received his degree in 1791 but had no direct plans for his future. He returned to France in 1791 and stayed a full year, during this time became an enthusiastic advocate of the French Revolution. Money concerns forced him to return to England and he was unable to return to France until 1802 due to war breaking out between the two countries.

In 1795 two things happened that ultimately changed the course of Wordsworth's life. In August of 1795 a young friend whom Wordsworth had been nursing died of tuberculosis and left him a grant of 900 pounds. His friend had hoped that with this money Wordsworth would be able to devote his life to poetry, and in August of 1795 Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Over the next two years their friendship would grow and in 1797 William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Alfoxden House, which was only a few miles from Coleridge's home. The creative partnership between these two young poets would eventuate in the first publishing of Lyrical Ballads.

The publication of Lyrical Ballads represented a turning point for English poetry. It was released anonymously on October 4th, 1798 and the learned old guard of literary England was mostly unaware that a form of "literary revolution" had taken place. Previous ages had...
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