As we reflect on William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday, recent publications such as this illustrated and annotated edition of The Prelude take on extra importance in understanding how we view the poet. Wordsworth’s epic-length autobiographical poem (begun in the late 1790s, but first published in 1850, after his death) is widely considered to be his most personal work, and here, the creative decision to include 200 Wordsworth-contemporary color plates to compliment it is telling of how we keep Wordsworth in our memories today—namely, as the embodiment of a cultural moment (the Romantic Period) and a landscape (the English Lake District, now both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site).The images below pair sections of the poem with their illustrations.
The version of The Prelude presented here is different from the one published by the poet’s family in 1850. The editors have recovered an earlier version from manuscript. This is commonly known as the 1805 Prelude.
Contributed by Chelsea McNeil