THE PEDESTRIAN, WORDSWORTH

The Poet and His Poetry in Context

A New Study by Rodney Jones

In “A Letter to a friend of Robert Burns”, Wordsworth wrote    ‘And, of poets more especially, it is true – that, if their works be good, they contain within themselves all that is necessary to their being comprehended and relished’. While I doubt that this assertion was true when he wrote it in 1816, it is certainly not the case for readers of his poetry today. The historical context in which his poetry was written is, in many respects, little known to today’s students of the romantic period, nor to those who simply enjoy reading Wordsworth's poetry, and my book seeks to remedy that deficiency by providing much needed background information.

Wordsworth lived to see his eightieth birthday, and the demands of adequately covering such a long and active life necessitate the work being divided into three volumes.  The present volume covers the period from his birth in Cockermouth in 1770 up to his return from Germany in 1799, where he had lived for eight months with his sister Dorothy.

Among the themes that are discussed in this volume, alongside the biographical detail that is presented, are the poet’s interests in Education (both in theory and practice); the role played by the religious Dissenters of the period both in the nation’s commercial life and in radical politics; and the social conditions that he encountered in both urban and rural England as he wandered around the country.  All of this is played out against the background of revolution in France - a revolution that Wordsworth was very much a part of - and political repression at home, spearheaded by the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger.

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