Study Guide

William Wordsworth Marriage

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In 1799 William and Dorothy moved to the village of Grasmere, and Wordsworth began work on a long piece he referred to as the "poem to Coleridge." In 1802, he and Dorothy traveled to France so that he could meet his daughter Caroline and make arrangements for her support. When he returned to England, he married Mary Hutchinson, a former schoolmate and longtime friend. The couple had five children over the next eight years, including daughter Dora, a frequent inspiration for Wordsworth's poetry.

Wordsworth finished the "poem to Coleridge" by 1805 but refused to publish it, saying that it would be the prologue to a longer piece entitled The Recluse. He instead published in 1807 Poems in Two Volumes, a new book of verse. The year after the book's publication, Coleridge moved in with the Wordsworths. Two years later he moved out, his mind and body wracked by addiction to laudanum, an opium-based painkiller frequently prescribed at the time. When he learned that Wordsworth had warned a mutual friend against taking the high-maintenance Coleridge in as a houseguest, Coleridge sank into a deep depression. The two men split and eventually reconciled some years later. In 1812, Wordsworth experienced acute tragedy of his own when two of his children, six-year-old Thomas and three-year-old Catherine, died in the same year.

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