William Wordsworth I Oxford Open Learning
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

‘I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud…’

This is arguably William Wordsworth’s most famous line, from his poem of the same name (sometimes also called ‘Daffodils’). The verse is an eloquent mixture of images of nature, sentiment and everyday speech, and has always been relatable to many, precisely as he intended.

The Family Of William Wordsworth

Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in the Lake District to parents John and Anne. He was raised with three brothers and a cherished sister, Dorothy, who was just a year younger than him. Sadly, he lost his mother at seven and his father at thirteen and was sent away to grammar school. Whilst there, he enjoyed a good education, spent much of his time outdoors and started to pen poetry with the encouragement of his teacher. It’s understood his brothers at various stages joined him at the school, though he remained separated from his sister.

After school, he went to St John’s College, Cambridge (which by all accounts he didn’t enjoy) but the summer holiday he spent walking in France and Switzerland, led him to become keenly interested in the country’s politics. After finishing his degree, he returned to France, where he fell in love with Annette Vallon. They were to have a child, but the French Revolution forced them apart before Annette gave birth. Wordsworth was forced to return to England and would be unable to meet his daughter for several years.

Reunion With Sister

After his return, Wordsworth fell into a deep sadness, but the repayment of an old family debt in 1795 enabled him to reunite with his sister Dorothy, and they moved in together – first in Dorset, then in Bristol, where they were friends with fellow poet Samuel Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge visited Germany together, and found inspiration, subsequently producing the poetry collection, Lyrical Ballads. Published in 1798, it heralded the founding of the Romanticism movement. It should also be noted that Dorothy was a talented poet, prose writer and diarist herself, and though she focused on supporting her brother, she has since been recognised in her own right as an important literary influence, which Wordsworth always understood and was grateful for.

In 1802, Wordsworth and Dorothy returned to the Lake District, where he married his childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson (with whom Dorothy was also friends). He and Mary had five children, though tragically three passed away in their early years. The poem, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ was written in 1804. Despite the many times of sadness William Wordsworth endured in his life, he continued to find solace in nature, the outdoors and in writing poetry.


Deborah Caine also writes personalised poems. If you are interested you can find out more here.

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Deborah is a freelance writer with an appetite for travel, books and blue cheese. She has worked in colleges and universities in the UK and Australia and also resided in Hong Kong and the UAE. Deborah is a flexible learning enthusiast, who achieved her arts degree majoring in Communications and Sociology through distance learning.

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