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Relationship with Annette Vallon
In November 1791, Wordsworth visited Revolutionary France and became enthralled with the Republican movement. He fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, who in 1792 gave birth to their child, Caroline. Because of lack of money and Britain's tensions with France, he returned alone to England the next year. The circumstances of his return and his subsequent behaviour raise doubts as to his declared wish to marry Annette, but he supported her and his daughter as best he could in later life. The Reign of Terror estranged him from the Republican movement, and war between France and Britain prevented him from seeing Annette and Caroline again for several years.
With the Peace of Amiens again allowing travel to France, in 1802 Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, visited Annette and Caroline in Calais. The purpose of the visit was to pave the way for his forthcoming marriage to Mary Hutchinson. Afterwards he wrote the sonnet "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free" recalling a seaside walk with the 9 year old Caroline he had never seen prior to that visit. The sonnet is somewhat reserved but it is plain Wordsworth felt genuine affection for his daughter, as indeed did Mary who was anxious that Wordworth should do more for Caroline should their circumstances improve. Her wish was granted at Caroline's marriage in 1816, when Wordsworth settled £30 annually on Caroline, a generous allowance (£1,360 purchasing power in year 2000 pounds sterling) that continued until 1835, when it was replaced by a capital settlement.
- Early life
- Relationship with Annette Vallon
- First publication and Lyrical Ballads
- The Borderers
- Germany and move to the Lake District
- Marriage and children
- Autobiographical work and Poems in Two Volumes
- The Prospectus
- The Poet Laureate and other honours
- Major works
- Further reading