Wordsworth, William

Scope and Content

Manuscript of a William Wordsworth sonnet entitled On a portrait of the Duke of Wellington on the Field of Waterloo, by Haydon , suggested by Haydon's 'Picture of the Duke of Wellington upon the field of Waterloo, twenty years after the battle' (painted for St. George's Hall, Liverpool.) It comprises 14 lines of verse, with some alterations in the text.
A note on the page reads 'Composed while ascending Helvellyn. Monday August 31st 1840. Wm Wordsworth. Private at present'. The manuscript appears to be in the hand of Mary Wordsworth.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Wordsworth was born in the Lake District in 1770. An orphan by the age of 13, he was sent to be educated at Hawkshead grammar school. He then moved on to St John's College, Cambridge University, where he achieved only a pass in his degree. In 1791 Wordsworth travelled to France, where he formed a romantic attachment to a woman named Marie Vallon. Before their child was born in December 1792, Wordsworth had to return to England and was cut off by the outbreak of war between England and France. He did not meet his daughter Caroline until she was nine years old.
For the next few years he remained in London, associating with radicals such as William Godwin. In 1795, a legacy from a friend enabled him to be reunited with his sister Dorothy, and the pair moved into Alfoxden House near Bristol, where they met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. Wordsworth and Southey embarked on a partnership which was to change the former's style of poetry from long poems of social protest the short lyrical and dramatic poems for which he is best known. In 1798 Coleridge and Wordsworth published Lyrical Ballads . It is at this point that Wordsworth began work on The Prelude, a poem which was finally published in 1850.
Following a tour of the Lake District, the Wordsworths and Coleridge moved to the Lake District, the former two moving into Dove Cottage in Ambleside. In 1802, William married his childhood companion, Mary Hutchinson. As their family grew, the Wordsworths moved several times, finally settling at Rydal Mount in 1813. During this time, Wordsworth wrote and published some of his best known work, including Poems in two volumes (1807), Poems (1815), The excursion (1814), The White Doe of Rylstone (1815), Thanksgiving ode (1816), Peter Bell (1819), The Waggonier (1819) and Ecclesiastical sketches (1822).Wordsworth was made Poet Laureate in 1843, a post which he held until his death in 1850.


Single item.

Access Information

Access to the items in the collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Bought from R.R. Trout in 1950.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLp AIM25 Project.

Separated Material

Further papers relating to William Wordsworth:The Wordsworth Library, Grasmere, holds correspondence, literary manuscripts and papers; Cornell University Libraries, New York, have correspondence and papers; Beinecke Library, Yale University, New York, contains papers; the Huntington Library, California, holds correspondence and papers, 1795-1848; Houghton Library, Harvard University, Connecticut, has letters and manuscripts, 1801-1850; the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, has letters, 1801-1849 (Ref: Mss 10256, 10279, 10306 and 10324), letters to John Gibson Lockhart, 1831-1842 (Ref: Mss 931-35), and letters to Sir Walter Scott, 1803-1831 (Ref: Mss 3874-3919); Keats House, London, contains mauscripts; Keswick Museum and Art Gallery holds manuscripts; the British Library, London, holds poems (Ref: Add Ms 47864; RP145), letters to Sir John Taylor Coleridge, 1838-1849 (Ref: Add Ms 47553), letters to Barron Field (Ref: Add Ms 41325), correspondence with William Ewart Gladstone, 1838-1844 (Ref: Add Mss 44356-527), correspondence with Sir William Hamilton, 1827-1833 (Ref: RP307); letters to William Mathews, 1791-1796 (Ref: Add Ms 46136), letters to Thomas Poole, 1798-1815 (Ref: Add Ms 35344), letters to Edward Quillinan, 1830-1842 (Ref: Ashley Mss 4641, A 4642), letters to Daniel Stuart, 1801-1838 (Ref: Ref: Add Ms 34048), a music book, 1771 (Ref: Add Ms 54194), and letters to his brother Christopher and nephew John, 1826-1842 (Ref: Add Ms 46136); St John's College Library, Cambridge University, contains papers; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, holds letters to Joseph Cottle and Walter Savage Landor, 1797-1824 (Ref: Forster Collection), and correspondence with Alexander Dyce, 1828-1844 (Ref: Dyce 26 D 14, E 4-5); Cumbria Record Office has letters to the William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale (Ref: D/LONS); University College London holds letters to Samuel Rogers, 1808-1848 (Ref: Sharpe papers); Mirehouse, Keswick, contains correspondence with John Spedding; the Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, holds letters to Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope, 1836 (Ref: U1590/C367); the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, has letters to Sir Henry Taylor, 1823-1846 (Ref: MS Eng lett c1); Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, holds letters from Wordsworth and his sister; the Lilly Library, Indiana University, has correspondence.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


This poem was fist published in Poems, chiefly of early and late years (Edward Moxon, London, 1842).