Local Famous People: William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth in the Lake District

William Wordsworth portrait

William Wordsworth has long been associated with the Lake District and visitors to the Lakes can follow his footsteps by visiting many of the places associated with him and his works. These include his childhood home; Wordsworth House in Cockermouth owned by the National Trust.

Enjoy the picturesque drive from Lingmoor Guest House in Windermere to Dove Cottage in Grasmere where he penned some of his best work and amble around the delightful village of Grasmere or follow the coffin path from Dove Cottage to Rydal Mount and enjoy the breathtaking views over Grasmere and Rydal Water. Rydal Mount, once described by him as his most beloved home has spectacular views over Rydal Water. Ullswater is also worth a visit this is the area that inspired Wordsworth to write ‘The Daffodils’ or walk around Aira Force (also owned by the National Trust) which also inspired poems including ‘The Somnambulist’.

more History of William Wordsworth & The Lake District

William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770 at Cockermouth in a Georgian property that is now called Wordsworth House. At the back of the house in the gardens flowed the River Derwent and so it was a place of great adventure and magic for the young William Wordsworth and his brothers and sister.

He spent most of his childhood in Cockermouth, attending the infant school in Penrith from 1776 to 1778. Wordsworth’s mother died in Cockermouth when he was just 8 years old and his father when he was 13. They are buried at All Saints Church and the church rooms are on the site of the Cockermouth school that Wordsworth attended. From 1779 to 1787 Wordsworth attended Grammer School in Hawkshead, here, he was encouraged to read and write poetry and so he made many trips over the Lake District countryside to gain inspiration.

He went to St John’s College Cambridge and in 1795 he received a bequest of £900, which gave him the means to pursue a career in literature.

On a holiday in Dorset he met Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey whom he forged a close friendship with. Coleridge, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy undertook a tour of the Lake District starting at Temple Sowerby and finishing at Wasdale Head via Grasmere.

At Grasmere, they saw Dove Cottage and in 1799 William and his sister moved in to this quaint Lake District cottage. Dorothy worked as William Wordsworth secretary. In 1802 William married his childhood companion Mary Hutchinson and the first three of their five children were born at Dove Cottage. In 1808, the cottage having become too small, they moved to The Old Rectory opposite St Oswald’s Church, here, sadly, his two youngest children died.

In 1813 they moved to Rydal Mount, overlooking Rydal Water where Wordsworth and Mary stayed until their deaths in 1850 and 1859. Whilst at Rydal Mount, Wordsworth became the Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland and had an office in Church Street Ambleside. In 1820 he published his ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’. In 1842 he became the Poet Laureate and so he resigned from his office in Ambleside.

He helped to choose the site of St Marys Church, where he was church warden from 1833 to 1834. In 1850 Wordsworth caught a cold and died on 23rd April at the age of 80. He and Mary, who died 9 years later, have a simple tombstone in the churchyard of St Oswald’s in Grasmere. Now one of the most visited literary shrines in the world. William Wordsworth wrote 70000 lines of verse more than any other poet.