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Today's Featured Biography

William Wordsworth

      William Wordsworth, the poet, was born at Cockermouth, on the Derwent, in Cumberland, on April 7, 1770. His parentage offers a curious parallel to Scott's; he was the son of an attorney, law-agent to the Earl of Lonsdale, a prosperous man in his profession, descended from an old Yorkshire family of landed gentry. On the mother's side, also, Wordsworth was connected with the middle territorial class; his mother, Anne Cookson, was the daughter of a well-to-do mercer in Penrith; but her mother was a Crackanthorpe, whose ancestors had been lords of the manor of Newbiggin, near Penrith, from the time of Edward III. He was thus, as Scott put it in his own case, come of "gentle" kin, and, like Scott, he was proud of it, and declared the fact in his short fragment of prose autobiography. The country squires and farmers whose blood flowed in Wordsworth's veins were not far enough above local life to be out of sympathy with it, and the poet's interest in the common scenes and common folk of the North Country hills and dales had a traceable hereditary bias.

      Though his parents were of sturdy stock, both died prematurely, his mother when he was five years old, his father when he was thirteen, the ultimate cause of death in his mother's case being exposure to cold in "a best bedroom" in London; in his father's, exposure on a Cumberland hill, where he had been befogged and lost his way. At the age of eight Wordsworth was sent to school at Hawkshead, in the Esthwaite V... more of the Biography of William Wordsworth

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