• Lancaster University

William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

Explore the influence of the Lake District on Wordsworth with this free online course, filmed at his home, Dove Cottage, Grasmere.

27,753 enrolled on this course

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

27,753 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
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    4 hours
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Explore the great poetry of William Wordsworth and his writing process

This free online course will explore the great poetry of William Wordsworth, with an emphasis on his writing process and the inspirational landscape of the Lake District. This course is presented in association with the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

You will study how Wordsworth created and revised some of his greatest works including “I wandered lonely as a Cloud” (perhaps better known as “Daffodils”) and The Prelude (his autobiographical masterpiece). We will draw on the magnificent collection of manuscripts held by the Wordsworth Trust in the museum next to his home.

Through readings and discussions focusing on Grasmere and the landscape of the Lake District, the course will explore why this location was so important for Wordsworth.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds William Wordsworth is one of the greatest poets in the English language. And he wrote much of his most famous work here at Dove Cottage in Grasmere in the heart of the English Lake District.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds This MOOC, Wordsworth: Poetry, People, and Place, is set here in Grasmere. And is a special collaboration between Lancaster University and the Wordsworth Trust who look after Dove Cottage. One of things we’ll be doing on the MOOC is to study Wordsworth poetry in location. So we’ll be visiting the key sites, the key places where he both writes his poetry and that he writes about. So you’ll be joining us as we visit the beautiful and sublime places he describes. What also makes Grasmere very special is that Wordsworth’s manuscripts are here. They’re held in the Jerwood Centre, just down the lane. And for this course, the Wordsworth Trust have given us full access to that collection.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds This means that you’ll be able to come with us into the archives and examine the manuscripts, investigating the processes by which Wordsworth produced poems and collections, such as Lyrical Ballads, The Prelude, and Daffodils. So this is a course that’s for anybody who has an interest in poetry, in place, and in the process of writing. You don’t need to have read Wordsworth before. And if you haven’t, then the MOOC will give you an enjoyable introduction to one of the best-loved poets in English literature.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds If you are already familiar with Wordsworth’s work, your understanding and appreciation of his writing will be enhanced by this unique opportunity to read and study his poetry in the landscape of the Lake District and to interpret the actual manuscripts of the poems. Each week one of our distinguished team of literature professors from Lancaster University will focus on a particular poem or collection. And we’ll also be looking at the letters and journals of William’s sister, Dorothy, an important writer herself. Throughout the course, we’ll be joined by Jeff Cowton, the Wordsworth Trust’s curator, who will be showing us the treasures of the collection and helping us to interpret the manuscripts.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 seconds So we very much hope you’ll join us here in Grasmere as we study the works of William Wordsworth.

What topics will you cover?

  • William Wordsworth’s life and work and the archive of his manuscripts at the Jerwood Centre, Grasmere
  • Manuscript materials as evidence of how Wordsworth created his poetry
  • The importance of a sense of place in Wordsworth’s writing
  • Wordsworth’s conception of the role of ‘Nature’, especially as expressed in ‘The Tables Turned’, The Prelude, ‘Michael’ and ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’
  • The significance of Lyrical Ballads and the volume’s key principles
  • Wordsworth’s ideas about education and his concept of ‘spots of time’
  • Ideas of home and community and their relationship to creativity
  • The relationship between different forms of writing, especially letters, journals and poetry
  • Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals and their relationship to her brother’s poetry

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop an understanding of a range of William Wordsworth’s poems
  • Explore how Wordsworth created his poetry through study of his manuscripts
  • Assess the importance of the Lake District to Wordsworth’s poetry
  • Compare William’s writing with that of his sister, Dorothy
  • Engage in critical debate about literary issues with other learners
  • Develop skills of close reading

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone with an interest in poetry, place and the process of writing.

If you haven’t read Wordsworth before, the course will give you an enjoyable introduction to one of the best-loved poets in English literature.

If you’re already familiar with his poetry, your understanding will be enhanced through this unique opportunity to study it where it was written.

Who will you learn with?

I am Professor of Romantic Studies in the Department of English and Creative Writing, Lancaster University. I have published widely on Wordsworth's poetry. I enjoy fell-walking in the Lake District.

I am Professor of Romantic and Victorian Literature at Lancaster University. My specialism is in Wordsworth, poetry of the Romantic period and place and space in literature.

I am Professor of Romanticism at Lancaster. My main research interests are in the relations between literature, science and medicine, 1780-1820. I am currently co-editing the Letters of Humphry Davy.

Who developed the course?

Lancaster University

Lancaster University is a collegiate university, with a global reputation as a centre for research, scholarship and teaching with an emphasis on employability.

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  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

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Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 15 Jun 2024

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Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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