A happy Cumbrian childhood

Siblings: William and Dorothy Wordsworth had an idyllic early upbringing © The National Trust

Siblings: William and Dorothy Wordsworth had an idyllic early upbringing

William Wordsworth and his four siblings lived very happily in Cockermouth, and William later wrote fondly of his time in the town and playing in the surrounding countryside.

His father, John Wordsworth, took up residence in the impressive building now known as Wordsworth House and Garden in 1764 at the age of just 23.

The house was a perk of his job as land agent for wealthy landowner and leading political figure Sir James Lowther.

In 1766, John married Ann Cookson, a draper’s daughter from Penrith. At just 18 years old, she must have found it daunting to suddenly be mistress of a large house in a strange town.

William was the second of Ann and John’s five children. The eldest, Richard – who grew up to be a lawyer like his father – was born in 1768.

William was born on April 7, 1770 and Dorothy, who spent her entire adult life at his side, on Christmas Day in 1771.

John, born in 1772, went to sea and eventually captained The Earl of Abergavenny, which famously sank off the Dorset coast in 1805.

Christopher, born in 1774, became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and vice-chancellor of the university.

Ann died in 1778, aged only 30, and the family was broken up.

Dorothy went to live with relatives in Halifax, while Richard and William were despatched to Hawkshead Grammar School, returning to Cockermouth for holidays. Only the two youngest boys remained at home.

John died five years later, in 1783, and all the children left Cockermouth for good to go into the care of relatives.