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Cover of U.S. edition of Radical Wordsworth by Sir Jonathan Bate
May 2020
Yale University Press

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Radical Wordsworth (U.S. edition)

The Poet Who Changed the World
Jonathan Bate

Published in time for the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth, this is the biography of a great poetic genius, a revolutionary who changed the world. Wordsworth rejoiced in the French Revolution and played a central role in the cultural upheaval that we call the Romantic Revolution.

He and his fellow Romantics changed forever the way we think about childhood, the sense of the self, our connection to the natural environment and the purpose of poetry. But his was also a revolutionary life in the old sense of the word, insofar as his art was of memory, the return of the past, the circling back to childhood and youth. This beautifully written biography is purposefully fragmentary, momentary and selective, opening up what Wordsworth called "the hiding-places of my power."


Jonathan Bate is a foundation professor of environmental humanities with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Global Futures Laboratory at ASU.

Praise for this book

“A bold and bracing account, masterful with its material, patiently brilliant in reading the poems, and gloriously convincing about its subject’s social significance ...  a finely authoritative reading, rather than simple record, of Wordsworth’s life ...  the distillation of a lifetime’s expertise by a leading scholar and biographer."

Daily Telegraph

“(A) marvelous new biography of Wordsworth ... that celebrates the fact that our lives are marked by turning points, not routine ... (An) inspiring, fleet-footed book.”

The Guardian