Wordsworth: Poet of the People

BBC Radio 3

Dispelling the myth of Wordsworth as a lonely, skinny Romantic poet rambling the hills of the Lake District taking moral lessons from Mother Nature,  Jenny Uglow argues that Wordsworth was, at least in early life, a social visionary, in tune with today’s pre-occupations about work, equality and the environment.

She sets Wordsworth in contrast to his Enlightenment contemporary, Adam Smith, whose views and philosophy (as expressed in Wealth of Nations) Wordsworth vigorously opposed. If Smith was pessimistic about people but optimistic about capitalism, Wordsworth felt the reverse.

Jenny mediates between these two world views that shaped Britain in the early years of industrialisation and beyond..indeed shades of the Enlightenment/Romantic debate are evident now. But she also pulls away from the idea that either Wordsworth or Smith fully represented the views attributed to them.

Produced by Susan Marling

Broadcast Date: 2020