Simon Bainbridge

Simon Bainbridge

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.


  • Hello Wordsworthians - our final end-of-week summary film is now up. It's another epic (about 45 minutes) and we cover a range of issues, including the following: the journey to Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Trust's approach to re-making the home, Dorothy's position in the household and the gendered division of labour, slavery, carving and graffiti, and whether...

  • Here's a link to the forthcoming series of online events at Wordsworth Grasmere:

    and to Sally's new book on 'Lyrical Ballads":

  • Hello Wordsworthians. Sally, Jeff and I recorded the end-of-week film for week 3 yesterday (Thursday) afternoon and it should be available around 10am UK time today (Friday). It's a bit of a bumper edition - around 40 minutes, so you might want to get the kettle on. We respond to your comments on the emotional power of 'Michael', what Wordsworth means by...

  • Hi @RobertBrunskill Yes it’s an online event so maybe you will be able to join us after all. Jeff and I will also be hosting a fortnightly series of online events on Thursday nights through the autumn - more details to follow soon.

  • Welcome to Week 3: I'm sure participants will be interested in the following event, hosted by Wordsworth Grasmere:

    Simon Armitage in Dove Cottage
    Thursday 1 October, 5.00pm BST (UTC +1)
    This event is captioned.

    Dove Cottage is the place where William Wordsworth produced most of his greatest and best-loved poems. After being restored as part of a...

  • Hi John. Glad you are enjoying the course. My reference is to the 1805 edition, from which I was reading, whereas I think you are citing the 1850 edition.

  • Hello Wordsworthians. Sally and I have just recorded the end of week summary in response to your comments. It should be available from around 10am tomorrow (Friday). In it we cover working with manuscripts, favourite versions of ‘The Prelude’, the role of beauty and fear in Wordsworth’s natural education and the spots of time. We hope you enjoy it!

  • Hi @RobertBrunskill - many thanks for all your positive comments throughout the course. We are delighted you are enjoying it!

  • Hi Rob. Fair question. I've always assumed that you must be able to see Skiddaw from the spot he is located in. He describes it as 'distant Skiddaw' after all. The editors of the Norton edition comment that 'Skiddaw, nine miles due east of Cockermouth, is the fourth highest peak in the Lake District'. So my sense is that he is still in the Cockermouth area,...

  • Hello Wordsworthians - Our end of week summary film is now available in the final step of the week, the 'Educators' Summary'. You can also see it directly on Youtube at:
    The Youtube version has less of a 'post box' view! We hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Please forgive any technical...

  • It will be up very soon - our tech guys are just loading it and creating the link.

  • Hi Randal - your are right. This is an error - for ‘scholars’ read ‘manuscripts’. We’ll change it when we can. Thanks for spotting and reporting; we are always happy to correct mistakes.

  • Hi Sally - welcome and good to have you on the course. Interesting that you studied at Lancaster, where the course team are based, and did an MA in the Romantics at York: both my colleague Sally Bushell and myself did that MA too. Also interesting to hear that you are a special needs teacher; it's thought that one of the Wordsworth's children, Catherine, had...

  • @SueSpencer We'll be looking at a key rowing incident in The Prelude next week too, this time on Ulswater.

  • A very warm welcome to all our US learners - as well as to friends from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Columbia, which is just the start of the global ABC ... It's great to have so many people join us from around the world. We will be very interested to see what you think of this course, which in some ways has a very particular focus on one part of England.

  • Hi Jo-Ann - welcome to the course. We hope it continues to feed your FutureLearn addiction!

  • Hi Karen - many of the Romantic poets visited Belgium, including Wordsworth (as did with Lord Byron, Walter Scott and Robert Southey). They were particularly fascinated by it as the site of the Battle of Waterloo.

  • Hi @AndyBourne I spent some of my summer holiday with friends in Exeter this year - lovely beaches nearby: Exmouth, Sidmouth, Charmouth, Budleigh Salterton.

  • Hi Ray - great to have you with us. There will be chances in the course for people to share visual material with us and each other, so perhaps we might get a chance to see some of your photography and art then.

  • Hi Fiona, sounds like you are very well equipped for the course. 'The Major Works' is the best single volume of Wordsworth's works I'd say. Hope you enjoy the course.

  • Hi Robert - many thanks. Do let us know if we start to get too stuffy; its an occupational hazard!

  • Hi Lesley - I envy you living in the Highlands (though Lancashire is pretty good). I'm a fan of your Munros! Currently working on an essay on Romanticism and Wilderness, so appreciate what you are describing here.

  • Hi Maria - welcome - we hope you enjoy the course.

  • Hi Bibhash - great to have you on the course. we hope you enjoy it.

  • Hi Ciara - yes The North is so important for the great writing of the C19 century. We hope you enjoy the course.

  • Good luck with the new puppy, Debora - let's hope both s/he and the course provide lots of fun.

  • Hi Elliot - that's a great place to study; I once attended a conference at Bristol University on 'Bristol: Romantic City', a key location in the history of Romanticism.

  • Hi Margaret - my colleague Professor Sharon Ruston is 'an Essex girl born and bred too' - you'll be seeing a lot of her in week 4.

  • Hi Jenni - we hope you get the inspiration you are seeking. Certainly we find the writing and the landscapes that we'll be exploring have that effect on us.

  • Welcome Meg - good points about Dorothy. We will be looking at her life and work in some detail in week four, both in terms of its influence on William and as great literature in its own terms.

  • Hi Alexia - welcome to the course. We hope you enjoy it.

  • Welcome back @CaroleSturgiss - great to have you with us again. Very touching to hear about the importance of "Daffodils" for your mother and her family - out best wishes to you all. And well done on getting to Pilates - William and Dorothy were both was a great believers in the importance of exercise for our mental health (for them, primarily walking).

  • Hi Hazel - I'm not much of a poet either but I love reading the stuff and Wordsworth is one of my favourites (if not THE favourite). Hope you enjoy the course.

  • Hi Claire - great to have you with us. We hope the course lives up to expectations! We lobe 'The Prelude' too - the focus for next week.

  • Welcome Annette - 85+ courses is impressive. We hope you enjoy this one as much as you did those. Wordsworth was, of course, a contemporary of those literary figures you mention - what an amazing period of creativity it was!

  • Welcome Alison - Wordsworth was a student at Cambridge, of course; he too must have felt the difference between the two landscapes!

  • Hi Andy - it's pretty wet up here in the north west of England today too; we got lucky when filming for the course. Hope you enjoy it - Scott was a good friend of Wordsworth, they climbed Helvellyn together and he stayed at Dove Cottage (escaping out the window when it got too busy for his liking).

  • Welcome Andy - we hope you enjoy the course (and a virtual return back to the world of the University)

  • Hi Robert - welcome to the course and great to have a Cumbrian with us. I think you will especially enjoy weeks 2 and 3 which focus on the particular importance of Cumbria for Wordsworth and his characters. If I was choosing my 'desert island book' I'd be torn between Wordsworth 's 'The Prelude', which we look at next week, and Byron's 'Don Juan'.

  • Hi Philip - that must have been disappointing. Dove Cottage in Grasmere has just reopened to the public now; let's hope you are able to get there soon. I'm going up at the end of the week to record our weekly summary - really excited to see it again and to see all the changes that have been introduced as a result of the 'Reimagining Wordsworth' project.

  • Hi Dorothy, we will be looking at both familiar and some less well known poems, so we hope you enjoy them.

  • Hello Eleanor - great to have you back with us. For me one of the great things about literature is you learn and appreciate more whenever you return to it, which is why it is such a privilege to teach and research it. We hope the same proves true for you on this run of the course.

  • Hi Ruth - we hope the course will help you remember; Wordsworth was very interested in processes of forgetting and remembering, as we will see throughout the course and especially next week.

  • Hi Srividya @SrividyaPrakash Welcome to the course. Form my (limited) travels in India, I get the sense that that Wordsworth is quite well known there. Strong similarities in some respects with Tagore, whose work isn't as well known in Britain as it should be!

  • Hi Noelyne - welcome to the course. We really hope it gives you the knowledge you are looking for.

  • Hi Sue @SueSpencer When we work with groups at Grasmere, we often take them out by rowing boat to the centre of the Lake. It's a wonderful experience and you get a real sense of the bowl-like geography that Wordsworth found so protective in the the valley.

  • Hi Anne - the brocken- spectre is a key image in some Romantic writing. Coleridge describes on in his poem 'Constancy to an Ideal object' and James Hogg in his great novel 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner'. I've been lucky enough to see one on a few occasions - from Pillar in the Lake District and in the Scottish Highlands. I've also experienced a...

  • Hi Anne @AnnC Lots of the films for the course are made on-location in the lakes so we hope you enjoy them and the rest of the course.

  • @RitaMacKinnon Very interesting on the destructive power of Nature, Rita. In the recent floods of the Lake District of 2009 and 2016, the house where Wordsworth spent his very early years was badly damaged by the very River Derwent whose benevolent powers he celebrates in this opening. See the story here:...

  • Hi Maureen, I'm part of a group involving a range of partners that are producing a website for Wordsworth 250 that will list all the various events going on in the celebratory year. As soon as that is available I'll share the link with you all, or if it is after the course has finished, I think we will have the ability to email you all with the information.

  • Hi Julie, I've had a chance to discuss this with Jeff now. He says there's no known date. One theory is that the image of Dorothy is based on the later portraits and made to look younger. You can see the image and the catalgue listing at the following web address, though I would ignore the date of 1803 (which I think is the date of the imagined image, as it...

  • HI Ineke. It's a complicated story, isn't it. He finished the first version in 1799 but at that stage it was only in two parts and approximately 1,000 lines long. It wasn't published at that stage. He then developed it over the next five years, completing a thirteen book version in 1805. This wasn't published either. He then continued to revise the poem, which...

  • Hi Julie - as I understand it, it's not contemporary. I'm seeing Jeff Cowton over the weekend, so will see if he has any more information about it.

  • Welcome back, William. Delighted to hear you enjoyed the course last time and we hope you continue to do so this time around.

  • Welcome to the course, Vivienne. Let us know if it causes you to change your travel plans!

  • He may well have planned to marry, Helena. He returned to England to sort out his financial affairs but when war broke out between England and France it became impossible for him to travel back to France and Annette.

  • Good question, Julie. Jeff Cowton and myself have recently written a label for this illustration which is in the Trust’s collection for the new museum that will open next year. Very little is known about it. The images of William and Samuel are based on known portraits but we don’t know what the source is for the image of the woman. There are no known...

  • @TimPeters Hello Tim - thanks for your kind words. I think you would be interested in Wordsworth's poem 'Stepping Westward' which was in my mind when thinking about this. There's an online version here is you don't have your Wordsworth to hand:,_1815)/Volume_1/Stepping_Westward

  • I agree. The importance of living as part of a creative community was very important for William, as well as for Dorothy and Samuel, and is often overlooked in the emphasis on the poet wandering lonely as a cloud. He was very often walking with someone else (as we'll see in week 4).

  • Hello Sara - thank you. It's a very interesting time to visit Dove Cottage because it is in the process of being 'reimagined' as part of a major Heritage Lottery Funding scheme. Currently visits to the Cottage give you a chance to see what's going on, as well as to go to the Jerwood Centre, where we filmed lots of the course.

  • Delighted you enjoyed this virtual visit, Dava. Jeff and my colleague Sally Bushell will be sharing more fascinating objects with us as the course progresses.

  • Hi Ineke. I don't think photocopies were made, as this might have damaged the binding of the book. But the Trust were able to confirm which version of 'Lyrical Ballads' it was. They have other first editions of the volume, should anyone want to look at an identical copy that is more robust. It's an intesting issue for all museums, isn't it, the tension between...

  • Hello Snow - Wordsworth made much of his poetry out of his life, as we'll see when we get to The Prelude. Many of his works are based on things that happened to him, perhaps most famously his poem known as 'Daffodils', though as we'll see in Week 4, he did change some of the details.

  • Hello Melissa - we are very pleased to have you on the course.

  • We hope so too, William. We will particularly focus on Dorothy in Week 4 of the course, when our colleague Jenn Ashworth will be reading from Dorothy's journals, so we hope you will enjoy that part of the course.

  • Hi Jessica - welcome to the family and thanks to Tim for taking the course for a second time. We all hope it gives you all lots to talk about.

  • Hi Julie. May 2020 will be a great time to visit the Lake District and especially Wordsworth-related sites. April 7th 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the poet's birth so there will be lots going on to celebrate, including the opening of the new Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere. Exciting times!

  • Hi Martina - hopefully you'll make it one day. We think that our excellent cameraman Dave Blacow did a great job of capturing the Lake District. The landscape will be a big part of future weeks too, with on-location discussions, so we hope you enjoy them.

  • Hello Richard and Brian. Interesting points. As you can imagine, there has been much discussion of Wordsworth's claim over the past two centuries but I think Brian captures the sentiment very well. As you'll see when we get to 'The Prelude', in some cases Wordsworth was recollecting several decades after he had first experienced the initial emotion.

  • Thank you, Sue. Glad you enjoyed it. All the images are from the Wordsworth Trust's own collection and you can view it online at the following link
    This provides access to a wonderful collection of Romantic-period landscapes, particularly those of the Lake District.

  • And see also this link if there's something specific you would like to see

  • Hello Gilli and Eric. Details of how to visit both Dove Cottage and the Jerwood Centre are available at

    Click on the images for 'Dove Cottage Uncovered' and 'Discover Wordsworth Talk' for more details.

  • What a fantastic opportunity. I've never been inside the cottage myself, though the school around the corner is fascinating and you are in the wonderful location of the opening books of The Prelude. We will see if anyone has any information on the cottage to hand.

  • Hello Saskia - you touch on many of the key themes of the course here - the Lake District, memory, and personal growth. All key themes in Wordsworth's poetry. We hope the films bring back happy memories while you also learn new things.

  • Hello Ursula, Dorothy will be a particular focus in Week 4 of the course, when we'll be looking at her journal in some detail. We hope you enjoy the course.

  • HI Eileen, we loved filming the course in the Lake District, so hope it brings back happy memories for you, as well as producing new ideas.

  • Hello Francis, we'll be particularly looking at Wordsworth's statement 'Let Nature be your teacher' this week, so I hope you find it interesting.

  • Hi Cynthia, there are a number of parts of the course that aim to help develop poetry appreciation and critical skills, so we hope you are able to fulfil these expectations.

  • Hi Julia, we hope that the course fulfils your expectations and the team look forward to working with you.

  • Simon Bainbridge made a comment

    Hello all. Just to let you know that we have now recorded the summary video for week 3 but our IT specialist has been ill and unable to post it (get well soon, Phil). It should be up first thing on Monday morning.

  • When was this, Dennis? I'm sure you'd get a much friendlier welcome now (the cottage has been open on Sundays for as long as I can remember).

  • Simon Bainbridge replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hello Ken. Wordsworth is using a complex, we might say Miltonic, syntactical structure here. If I were attempt to paraphrase what he is saying, it would be along the following lines: 'You would be wrong to think that the shepherd was indifferent to the valleys, streams and rocks'.

  • Hi Hilary. Glad you enjoyed it. Someone has just told me that the programme is available on the BBC iplayer for the next 6 days:

  • Hello Dennis and David. There is an online version of the whole 1798-9/ Two part Prelude available here:
    Thanks to you both for your engagement with the course and with Wordsworth. As I write this Wordsworth has just been a question on University Challenge. What is the first verb in the first line of...

  • Hello Dennis. The texts that are being paralleled in that edition are the 1805 and the 1850 versions, rather than the 1799 / two-book version.

  • Many thanks, John. Delighted to hear you enjoyed the piece and envious of your trip to the Wasdale Head inn. I was last there a couple of years ago when Sally and I contributed to an episode of The Hair Bikers: The Pubs that Built Britain which focused on that pub (often repeated by the BBC). Si King and I went for a walk and discussed Coleridge's descent of...

  • Hello Mary. Yes, I think it was. If I remember the history correctly, Wordsworth bought the land (next to St Mary's church Rydal) with the aim of building a house on it, when he was threatened with the end of the tenancy of his home at Rydal Mount by Lady Fleming in the 1820s. When Lady Fleming changed her mind, the poet gave the field to his daughter Dora. On...

  • Many thanks, Robert. Great to hear you have enjoyed the course so far and especially that knowledge of the creative process is enhancing your reading of poetry.

  • Thank you, Cathryn. The discussions of the poems have been terrific. See you next week.

  • Thank you, Ian. That is very nicely put. The notion of the course as organically growing would indeed have pleased Wordsworth and also shows how important the whole community of participants is for the course. We learn much here at Lancaster from the discussion threads.

  • Glad you found the summary video helpful, Kathryn. Really pleased that you feel you are getting a lot from the course, especially as you've not read a lot of poetry before. Hopefully, this will lead on to other things ...

  • Thank you Daniela. See you next week.

  • You are very welcome, Jacqueline. Great to hear you are getting so much out of the course. See you next week.

  • Many thanks, Lada. That's very gratifying to hear. We posted our 'summing up' video earlier today, so you might find that helpful too.

  • Many thanks, Christine. Glad you are enjoying it and found the summing up video valuable. See you next week.

  • Hello Veronica. Many thanks for you positive comments and well done on completing week one of the course. We're delighted you feel you have learned so much and that you have enjoyed it. We look foward to seeing you next week.

  • Hello Christine. It's that kind of weather here in Lancaster today, though no light on the horizon. Wordsworth does have a phrase for the state of mind created by what you call 'dark, dire days' - 'visionary dreariness'. Hoping to experience it on my cycle home.

  • Hello John. That's a very good deal! That's my own favourite single-volume edition of Wordsworth. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Hi Diane. Is this any better?
    Delighted to hear you are loving the course.

  • Hi Diane. It's called 'After Visiting the Field of Waterloo'. You can find a text of the sonnet here: Hope you are enjoying the course.