William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 at Cockermouth in Cumberland, England.
William was the second son of John Wordsworth, attorney-at-law and law-agent to Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale. His mother was Anne, the only daughter of William Cookson, mercer of Penrith, and his wife Dorothy, nee Crackanthorp of Newbiggen Hall, Westmoreland. There had been Crackanthorps at Newbiggen Hall since the time of Edward III. William's grandfather moved to Westmoreland from Peniston, Yorshire, where his family had lived since before the Norman Conquest (according to William). and purchased the estate of Sockbridge His mother, Anne, died in 1778 of a decline brought on by a cold. His father never recovered from his wife's death, and died in 1783. when William was in his fourteenth year, and had just completed his ninth year at Hawkshead, where his older brother Richard also went to school.
William and his brother Richard were placed into the care of his uncle Christopher Crackanthorp when their father died, and it was due to Christopher and another uncle, Richard Wordsworth, that he was allowed to continue his education, as Sir James Lowther had forcibly borrowed £5,000 from his attorney and refused to repay it, and the Wordsworth family spent most of their father's remaining forturne trying to recover it, which they did eventually after Lord Lonsdale's death in 1801. and
Wordsworth graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge University. Describing himself as a child he said,
"I was of a stiff, moody, and violent temper; so much so that I remember going once into the attic of my grandfather's house at Penrith, upon some indignity having been put upon me, with an intention of destroying myself with one of the foils which I knew were kept there. I took the foil in my hand, but my heart failed."
Thomas De Quincey said of him,
"... Throughout his later life, with all the benefits of a French discipline, in the lesser charities of social intercourse he has always exhibited a marked impatience of those particular courtesies of life. . . . Freedom,—unlimited, careless, insolent freedom,—unoccupied possession of his own arms,—absolute control over his own legs and motions,—these have always been so essential to his comfort that in any case where they were likely to become questionable, he would have declined to make one of the party."
William lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Westmoreland, with his sister Dorothy, between 1799 and 1808. He then lived at Rydal Mount for 33 years, eventually dying there.
They lived a simple life, drinking water and eating simple fare, gardening, wandering over the hills, and rowing upon the lake, Coleridge and his family repeatedly stayed for months under Wordsworth's roof, later their circle of friends increased but life remained simple.
Dorothy introduced her friend, Miss Mary Hutchinson of Penrith, to William and in 1803, William married Mary. After thirty-six years of marriage, he wrote the following lines about his wife, Mary:
"Morn into noon did pass, noon into eve,
And the old day was welcome as the young,
As welcome, and as beautiful,—in sooth, more beautiful,