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William Wordsworth

1770 - 1850

This person is the subject of ongoing research. We have started by researching their relationship to the enslavement of people.

Biographical notes

Poet.

Slavery connections

Between 1795 and 1797 Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived in at Racedown Lodge in Dorset, which was owned by John Frederick Pinney, a slave-owner. (UCL Department of History, ‘John Frederick Pinney’ in UCL Department of History (ed.), Legacies of British Slave-ownership [online], London 2020, <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/26645> accessed 25 June 2021).

As the Slavery Abolition Bill was going through Parliament, Wordsworth observed that ‘Those who are most active in promoting entire and immediate Abolition do not seem sufficiently to have considered that slavery is not in itself and at all times and under all circumstances to be deplored’ (quoted in Liam Physick, ‘Poetry and Politics – William Wordsworth’s Changing Attitude towards Slavery’, <https://nervewriters.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/poetry-and-politics-william-wordsworths-changing-attitude-towards-slavery/> accessed 25 June 2021).

Abolition connections

Wordsworth was the author of the abolitionist poem ‘To Thomas Clarkson. On the Final Passing of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade’ (1807); see also The Prelude (1805 Text) Book X, lines 203–228.

National Gallery painting connections

Donor: Wordsworth was among a group of subscribers who presented John Constable’s The Cornfield to the NG in 1837 (NG130).

Bibliography

S. Gill, 'Wordsworth, William', in C. Matthew et al. (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 1992-, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/29973
Checked and foundItem on publisher's website

History of Parliament Trust (ed.), The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History, London 1964-, https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/
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J. Turner et al. (eds), Grove Art Online, Oxford 1998-, https://www.oxfordartonline.com/groveart/
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website

UCL Department of History (ed.), Legacies of British Slave-ownership, London 2020, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website