Letter from William Wordsworth to John Wilson, 7 June 1802


This letter was written from William Wordsworth to John Wilson, a Scottish writer, on 7 June 1802 in the early stages of the poet's career. Wordsworth defends his poem ‘The Idiot Boy’ from Lyrical Ballads, and sets out some of his poetic, and political, philosophy:

People in our rank in life are perpetually falling into one sad mistake, namely, that of supposing that human nature and the persons they associate with are one and the same thing. Whom do we generally associate with? Gentlemen, persons of fortune, professional men, ladies ... These persons are, it is true, a part of human nature, but we err lamentably if we suppose them to be fair representatives of the vast mass of human existence.

Wordsworth further muses that a great poet ‘ought travel before men occasionally as well as at their sides’.

Full title:
Letter from William Wordsworth to John Wilson, 7 June 1802
7 June 1802
Manuscript / Letter / Ephemera
William Wordsworth
© Dove Cottage - Wordsworth Trust
Held by
Dove Cottage - Wordsworth Trust

Related articles

Home and homelessness in William Wordsworth’s ‘The Ruined Cottage’

Article by:
Sally Bushell

William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Ruined Cottage’ tells the tale of a family torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. Professor Sally Bushell charts the decline of person through place in the poem.

The Romantics

Article by:
Stephanie Forward

Dr Stephanie Forward explains the key ideas and influences of Romanticism, and considers their place in the work of writers including Wordsworth, Blake, P B Shelley and Keats.

Related collection items

Related people