Exploring Britain's poetic inspiration
The Romanticism movement of the 18th and 19th centuries saw many of the major poets of this era coming from Britain, with their love for the country's varied natural scenery leading to some of the most famous poems of the time. Explore the Romantic beauty of Britain by visiting these seven scenic spots that inspired the country's literary masters.
William Wordsworth — Lake District
The poetry of William Wordsworth often drew heavily on the beauty of nature; likely stemming from his time spent in the idyllic countryside of the Lake District. One of his most well-known works, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, was inspired by a walk he took in Glencoyne Park in Ullswater, where he saw the beautiful swathes of daffodils referenced in the poem. This tranquil spot by the lake, since re-named Wordsworth Point, is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings as the great poet did all those years ago. A short drive away from Glencoyne Park you can find Rydal Mount; the former home of Wordsworth himself now turned into a museum dedicated to his life and works.
William Blake — Felpham
Although he spent the majority of his life living in London, William Blake found his most happy years in the small village of Felpham in West Sussex, describing it as a 'heaven' when compared to the capital. He wrote the introduction to his epic poem Milton during a stay in Felpham, and its mention of England's 'green and pleasant land' is said to be based on his love for the village. Blake even included a drawing of his Felpham cottage next to the poem, which can be found on the street that has been named in his honour; Blake Road.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge — Quantock Hills
Samuel Taylor Coleridge reacted to the threatened French invasion of Britain in 1798 by writing Fears in Solitude; a piece of writing that examined both the beauty and brutality of his country. The poem begins with a description of the picturesque Quantock Hills in Somerset, which typify the sweeping landscapes of the British countryside. The flower laden slopes, described by Coleridge as 'spirit-healing', are best visited when they are covered in vibrantly coloured heather in the summer. You can also travel south to explore Coleridge's birthplace Ottery St Mary, where a festival is held in his name every year.
Anna Laetitia Barbauld — Palgrave
When she wasn't busy writing poetry or political essays, famed female Romantic Anna Laetitia Barbauld enjoyed passing on her knowledge to the next generation, so in 1774 she and her husband set up an academy in the town of Palgrave, Suffolk. A town steeped in culture and history, Palgrave is the perfect place to visit if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet whilst following in the footsteps of one of Britain's literary greats.
Percy Bysshe Shelley — Oxford
The world renowned University of Oxford in the south-east of England counts the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley amongst its most prestigious students, but did you know he was expelled from the institution after only a year? Shelley reportedly only attended one lecture during his time at Oxford, much preferring to spend his days reading and developing his writing style. Oxford recognised their mistake in expelling him some years later, and erected a monument dedicated to Shelley in 1893. This white marble statue can still be found at University College, and is a must see for fans of Shelley's work.
John Keats — Wentworth Place
After a few tough years spent torn between his training as a medical student and his love for writing, John Keats finally found happiness when he moved to Wentworth Place in central London. This quaint Hampstead house allowed him to completely focus on his writing, with his famous piece Ode to a Nightingale supposedly written whilst sat under a plum tree in the garden listening to a singing bird. Modern day visitors to Wentworth Place will now find that the poet's former home has been converted into a museum which documents his life, with the adjacent John Keats public library opening in his honour.
Charlotte Turner Smith — Beachy Head
The windswept scenery of Beachy Head in the south-east of England served to inspire Romantic poet Charlotte Turner Smith's work of the same name, which gave a stark and vivid description of the coastal landmark. The impressive chalk cliffs at Beachy Head, which Smith described as a 'stupendous summit', allow for breath-taking views of the surrounding area and the crashing waves below. Visit at sunrise to truly understand Charlotte's reference to the 'brilliant rays of arrowy light darting from the horizon', as the cliffs are bathed in a beautiful orange glow reflected off the water.