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William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

Major English poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850), was in foster and kinship care as a child. William Wordsworth was born to lawyer John Wordsworth (1741-83) and Ann Cookson (1747-1778). William was the 2nd of 5 children. Ann died in 1778, when William was almost 8. On her death, John Wordsworth split up his family. 6 year old Dorothy went into kinship care with a great aunt in Halifax, 65 miles away; she didn’t see her brothers for 9 years after that. The two younger boys, John and Christopher, under 3, went to live with maternal grandparents in Penrith. John Wordsworth took William and his eldest boy, Richard, to live with him. After 14 months of living with their father, Richard and William were sent to school, Hawkshead, 30 miles from home. The boys, and later their brothers, John and Christopher, were “boarded out” or fostered to the Tyson family. For 4 years, there were only occasional visits back home with their father.

Then, in 1783, Johns Wordsworth died. The boys remained with the Tyson’s during term time, but during holidays, they stayed either with their maternal grandparents in Penrith or with one of their 2 uncles, Christopher or Richard. 17-year-old William Wordsworth went to Cambridge in 1787, funded by grants and scholarships from the university. During his first 2 holidays, he returned home to Ann Tyson. William Wordsworth had been writing poetry since he was in school. He published his first collection of poems in 1793 at the age of 23.

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