There are three versions of the poem:
- The 1799 Prelude, called the Two-Part Prelude, composed 1798–99, containing the first two parts of the later poem.
- The 1805 Prelude, which was found and printed by Ernest de Sélincourt in 1926, in 13 books.
- The 1850 Prelude, published shortly after Wordsworth's death, in 14 books.
The Prelude was the product of a lifetime: for the last part of his life, Wordsworth had been "polishing the style and qualifying some of its radical statements about the divine sufficiency of the human mind in its communion with nature".