Wordsworth remained a formidable presence in his later years. In 1837 the Scottish poet and playwright Joanna Baillie reflected on her long acquaintance with Wordsworth. "He looks like a man that one must not speak to unless one has some sensible thing to say. however he does occasionally converse cheerfully & well; and when one knows how benevolent & excellent he is, it disposes one to be very much pleased with him."
In 1838 Wordsworth received an honorary doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Durham and in 1839 he was awarded the same honorary degree by the University of Oxford. In 1842 the government awarded him a Civil List pension of 300 pounds a year.
Following the death of Robert Southey in 1843 Wordsworth became Poet Laureate. He initially refused the honour, saying that he was too old, but accepted when the Prime Minister, Robert Peel, assured him that "you shall have nothing required of you". He became the only laureate to write no official verses. When his daughter Dora died in 1847 his production of verse came to a standstill.