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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’.
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.