7 April 1770 - 23 April 1850
(Princeton U Library)
Not often mentioned in connection with the Gothic, Wordsworth in fact merits a place in any overview of the genre. Like many writers, Wordsworth in his youth was influenced by some of the popular literary forms and modes of the day, and a few of his early poems show the influence of the Gothic in their imagery or tone, although it's apparent from some of these early works (see "Guilt and Sorrow," [38K; Project Bartleby] for example, or "The Vale of Esthwaite") that Wordsworth was struggling with a mode that was foreign to his sensibilities. Yet even his maturer, "post-Gothic" work sometimes deals with the imagination, the fancy, and the sublime by means of supernaturalist imagery or atmosphere, and all of these have relevance for the Gothic and the Romantic reaction to and modifications of literary Gothicism. Of course many of Wordsworth's "major," non-Gothic poems also treat these themes: see, for example, the discussion of the mythic supernatural in Book Fourth of The
Excursion, at the section beginning "Once more to distant ages of the world..." (l. 847). Further examples — here comes a shameless plug — may be found in Chapter 5 of my book The Supernatural Sublime.
[VictorianWeb, Brown U]
[John R Williams, U Greenwich; Literary Encyclopedia]
William Wordsworth Page
Little more than a set of links that hasn't been updated for years, although this one does have a biographical essay. [David K. Rasnake]
A lot of Wordsworth-related material here, ranging from information about his home to essays on various aspects of Wordsworth's poetic life.
Brief biographical note
[The Island of Freedom]
Almost identical to the site above; who stole from whom?
[Columbia Encyclopedia, Bartleby]
[Gale Group Publishing]
[The Authors Calendar]
Emphasizes Wordsworth's devotion to his beloved Lake District. [VisitCumbria.com]
Includes links to etexts as well. [Literature Network]
Discusses WW as a writer of "natural history" in the Romantic period. [Ashton Nichols, Dickinson College]
Brief biographical note
[John W. Cousins, A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910]
Part of the The Victorian Literary Studies Archive, this concordance allows you to search etexts of several WW works, including Lyrical Ballads.
Includes a life-mask, made by Benjamin Robert Hayden—as spooky in its way as any death-mask. [National Portrait Gallery, London]
"The Danish Boy"
Arguably the most "supernatural" of Wordsworth's poems.
"The Force of Prayer, or the Founding of Bolton Priory"
"Goody Blake and Harry Gill"
"Guilt and Sorrow"
"Song for the Wandering Jew"
"We Are Seven"
Not Gothic, to be sure, but an interesting late "Graveyard School" poem.
"The White Doe of Rylestone"
Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802)
A mysterious white deer that shows up regularly in a remote country cemetery, and yet another reference to the fatal "Striding Place" referenced in Wordsworth's "The Force of Prayer" and Gertrude Atheron
's "The Striding-Place."
In which Wordsworth makes his famous remark about "frantic novels, sickly and stupid German Tragedies, and deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse"—as succinct a disparagement of Gothic novels and related popular works as one could hope for. Valuable for its discussion of Wordsworth's poetics, his "levelling muse," which favored a kind of elitist cultural populism, a highbrow egalitarianism, and while Wordsworth was himself at the time still on the margins of the mainstream, he soon enough became
the mainstream, and this essay provides a glimpse into the sort of thinking that helped marginalize the Gothic. For another earlier practitioner of the quasi-Gothic who also came to repudiate it, see Charlotte Smith
, to whom Wordsworth was hugely indebted.
This essay is part of a larger (74K) file which includes all of the prefaces and ancillary materials associated with this revolutionary volume. [Michael Gamer, U Penn]
Many of the above works — plus, of course, a whole lot more — can be found in the Penguin Classics' edition of Wordsworth's Selected Poetry.
Essays and Reviews:
The Wordsworth Circle
The premier journal for stand-alone Wordsworth criticism and scholarship; alas, none of its contents are available online.