William Wordsworth: A Life

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9780198128281: William Wordsworth: A Life

At age 28, William Wordsworth had neither a settled income nor the professional qualifications needed to secure one. He had no home, and he could not support the illegitimate child he had fathered during an impetuous love affair in France. The major part of a slim, anonymously issued volume of Lyrical Ballads was all he had to show for the years since he had left Cambridge, and yet he was convinced that he was called to be a major poet. Recognition came slowly, but by age 70 he was revered as a cultural icon, the Poet Laureate of England, and the most celebrated native of the Lake Country, where he was visited by royalty and many of the great poets of his day.
Based on an intimate knowledge of the poet's manuscripts, on a fresh look at contemporary records, and a careful analysis of the vast amount of research that has appeared in the last two decades, this vividly written volume is the first serious biography of Wordsworth to appear in over twenty-five years. Stephen Gill, a leading authority on Wordsworth's work, reveals that in many ways this giant of English literature lead a heroic life. Persisting against critical condemnation, numbing blows from the death of friends and family, including three of his own children, and his inability to make enough money from his writings to support himself, his dedication to his art did not waver. Moreover, Gill corrects the image of the older Wordsworth as a stodgy betrayer of his radical youth. While his politics certainly did change, and his poetic power waned, from 1799 almost to his death in 1850, Wordsworth single-mindedly shaped his own life in submission to an imaginative possession whose importance he never doubted.
Illustrated with over twenty halftones--including portraits, manuscript pages, and places important to Wordsworth and his family--this is an authoritative account of one of literature's great innovators, a writer who permanently enlarged the range of English poetry, both in subject matter and in treatment, and left a body of work that has enjoyed an enormous and lasting popularity. Providing considerable insight into Wordsworth's poetic achievement, Gill illuminates what was most essential to Wordsworth himself: his life as a writer.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Stephen Gill is Fellow and Tutor of Lincoln College, Oxford University. He is the editor of the Oxford Authors Edition of William Wordsworth's work, which the Sunday Times called "the indispensable Wordsworth collection."

Review:


"In his fine new biography of Wordsworth, Stephen Gill...paints a fresh and moving portrait of the poet....He tells his story in a compact prose that is blessedly free of jargon and rich in detail."--The New York Times Book Review


"Excellent....This is the kind of biography which any writer would be delighted to inspire, let alone to deserve. Stephen Gill detects the underlying direction and momentum of Wordsworth's life, tracing through the impulses of diurnal reality the permanent being of the man."--The Times (London)


"Gill...is superbly equipped to write the first full-scale biography of the poet in twenty-five years. Since the second volume of Mary Moorman's richly detailed account appeared in 1965, a whole generation of scholars has transformed the study of Wordsworth, and Gill has been at or near the center of this revolution....An indispensable book."--The Bloomsbury Review


"[A] solid, intelligent, and highly readable biography....Gill sends us back to the poetry with renewed interest, while enlarging our respect for the poet's rugged commitment to his muse."--Publishers Weekly


"Gill does a superb job of interrelating the life and work of this particularly autobiographical poet."--Library Journal


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