Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay describes what sensibility meant to Wordsworth by examining the works of several writers of the 1780s—Cowper, Helen Maria Williams, Charlotte Smith, and Robert Burns—demonstrating how their poetry shaped his early and mature verse. Sensibility was a literary manner that gave Wordsworth the means by which to approach such difficult subjects as grief at his parents’ deaths, mystic vision, and depression. As a voracious reader of poetry, it was impossible for Wordsworth to have avoided its influence of sensibility, yet his genius is distinguished by the ability to transcend it, while reworking its central tropes to create something wholly original.

Keywords: Sensibility, The Prelude, Jane Austen, William Cowper, Helen Maria Williams, Laurence Sterne, Charlotte Smith, Robert Burns, Hawkshead Grammar School, the Gothic

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.