The Prelude, 1850

First published posthumously in 1850, The Prelude is a 14-book poem about Wordsworth’s life and spiritual development. Many readers consider it his masterpiece. In the first book, he recounts many childhood experiences (“spots of time”) he had with nature and how they helped to shape who he became as a person. Later books recount his education, his adventures in revolutionary France, and other important milestones in his intellectual and poetic growth.


Wordsworth felt a deep connection with nature, often choosing to spend his time outdoors and living most of his adult life in England’s Lake District. This lifestyle had a profound influence on William’s writing and provided the material for many of his published works, making it difficult to separate his life from his poetry. The Prelude is one reason among many why readers came to think of the Lake District as “Wordsworth Country.”

Contributed by Matthew McCollum