Lyrical Ballads

This collaborative collection by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was published, anonymously, in 1798. The majority of the 23 contributions were by Wordsworth, and included ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’, ‘The Thorn’ and ‘The Idiot Boy’. Coleridge penned four, the most famous being ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. He provided an additional poem for the second, two-volume edition, but only Wordsworth’s name featured on the title-page. Wordsworth wrote the entire second volume, and also a prose Preface containing theories: for example, he explained his preference for subjects drawn from ‘low and rustic life’, and argued that poetry should be written in the language of ordinary people, a feature ridiculed by contemporary critics.

William Wordsworth , Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Romantic literature
Literary period:

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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.

An introduction to ‘Tintern Abbey’

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Professor Philip Shaw considers the composition of 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey', and explains how Wordsworth uses nature to explore ideas of connection and unity.

'Composed upon Westminster Bridge'

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Wordsworth’s vision of London’s serene beauty was composed on the roof of a coach – the poet was en route to France to meet his illegitimate daughter Caroline for the first time. Professor John Mullan explores the background to the poem.

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