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William Wordsworth

A white marble life size figure of poet William Wordsworth is now placed next to Shakespeare's memorial and below the bust of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. The figure is seated with crossed legs with a book on his lap. The quill in his hand has been broken off. The sculptor was Frederick Thrupp, 1854. The memorial was originally erected in what is now St George's chapel at the south west end of the nave. Dean Stanley had intended this chapel to become Little Poets' Corner, as the original area in the south transept was becoming crowded. Matthew Arnold and John Keble also had memorials in this chapel. Wordsworth's statue was moved to its present postion in 1932 when the original chapel was designated as a war memorial chapel. The inscription reads:

"WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. Blessings be with them - and eternal praise, Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares, The poets - who on earth have made us heirs of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays! BORN APRIL 7 1770. DIED APRIL 23 1850. BURIED IN GRASMERE CHURCHYARD".

The quote is from his Personal Talk, 1806.

His Life

He was born at Cockermouth in Cumberland, a son of John and his wife Ann (Cookson). After education at Hawkshead at Furness in Lancashire he went to St John's College, Cambridge. He and his sister Dorothy became friends of the poet Coleridge and lived near him in Somerset before moving to Dove Cottage at Grasmere in the Lake District. William married Mary Hutchinson on 4th October 1802 and their children were John, Dorothy (Dora), Thomas, Catherine and William. Wordsworth succeeded Robert Southey as Poet Laureate in 1843. All his poetry was inspired by an absorbing love of nature, written amongst the lakes and mountains where he spent most of his life. His Lyrical Ballads of 1798 was a landmark in the development of a new style of English poetry, while The Prelude, 1805, contains much autobiographical material. While in London he composed his well known lines on Westminster Bridge 'Earth has not anything to show more fair...' He died at Rydal Mount and is buried at St Oswald's church, Grasmere. Christopher Wordsworth, Canon of Westminster 1844-69 and Bishop of Lincoln was William's nephew.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Born

7th April 1770

Died

23rd April 1850

Field

Poet

Location

South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type

Statue

Material Type

Marble

William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

By probably Margaret Gillies (1803-1887)From en:, uploaded 13:55, 12 October 2002 by Magnus Manske [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth memorial

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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