This post by Anna Mercer was originally written for The Wordsworth Trust blog.
[Image credits to The Wordsworth Trust]
Stephen Gill’s biography of William Wordsworth is a carefully considered, detailed and incredibly readable account of the poet’s life and – most importantly – his works. A chronological survey of Wordsworth’s writing is given here as well as attention to the facts of his biography, and observations on the nature of his personal relationships.
The importance of Wordsworth’s formative years is examined in compelling detail – but always alongside the poetry. In reading about his early childhood or adolescence in the Lake District we are repeatedly reminded of the impact of these events on that great work The Prelude, and this mirrors the poet’s aims in The Prelude itself: childhood is a prerequisite to the adult mind, and part of its formation, not just an idealised state of innocence that must be lost. Gill’s attentiveness to Wordsworth’s autobiographical writing in The Prelude allows this work to do exactly what should be done in literary biography: we remember that William Wordsworth is a poet, and that is why we are interested in him. This is not simply the documented tales of any man …read more