The Prelude:

Newly Edited from the Manuscripts and Fully Illustrated in Color

The Prelude, William Wordsworth’s masterful autobiographical work, composed in blank verse, is generally considered the poem at the heart of the Romantic movement and one of the great poems in the English language. In this fully illustrated and annotated edition, it finally receives the treatment it deserves. Inspired by his dear friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poem charts the development of the author’s mind, from childhood to Cambridge, London, the Alps, and France, touching on subjects ranging from leisure to literature, nature to imagination, and everything in between. A meditation on the self, this work still stands as a masterpieces of English literature, and is here complemented and enhanced by 200 contemporary color plates that both illuminate and elucidate the text. Scrupulously selected and edited from the definitive manuscripts in existence, the marginal notes and glosses provide an extra touch that makes this a truly enlightening reading experience.

Meanwhile, my hope has been that I might fetch
Invigorating thoughts from former years,
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches, too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature,
To honourable toil.


A marvelous book — the great poem magnificently illustrated with 130 full-color paintings, drawing, maps and other visual aids contemporaneous with its writing. Lloyd Schwartz, WBUR & NPR’s The ARTery



The Prelude is the greatest and most original of English autobiographies.—Sir Frank Kermode

Regarded as Wordsworth’s masterpiece, and one of the great long poems in English literature . . .Nicholas Halmi

It was therefore with startled joy that I encountered the glorious new edition of The Prelude by my Harvard colleague James Engell, working in collaboration with the independent scholar Michael D. Raymond (who sought out the invaluable illustrations). Handsomely produced by David Godine in a broad horizontal format (twelve by nine and a half inches), the volume is illustrated on almost every other page by paintings or drawings contemporaneous with the poem itself.

These offer to the American reader’s eye an array of scenes indispensable to an understanding of Wordsworth’s world—lakes, crags, nocturnes, ships at sea, the Alps, Stonehenge, Revolutionary France, Cambridge, London. At last—with Engell’s eloquent and succinct introduction, helpful marginal glosses, notes, a chronology, and maps—American readers and students have a Prelude of their own.—Helen Vendler, The New York Review of Books

Set in a handsome, hardbound edition that equally fits in a coffee table display or upon a scholar s desk, this new edition is appropriate for the amateur and expert alike…There are no faults to be had with this book. It is aesthetically pleasing, intellectually rigorous, and completely satisfying. —The News and Times

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798). Wordsworth’s magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semiautobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, before which it was generally known as “the poem to Coleridge.” Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

James Engell is Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, where he chaired the Department of English for six years. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Center, he has authored and edited numerous books and articles on Romantic literature and the state of higher education in America.Michael D. Raymond completed his M.A. at Harvard

Michael D. Raymond completed his M.A. at Harvard and Ph.D. at Fordham on William Wordsworth. For four decades president of his own financial service, Raymond Wealth Advisors, he lives with his wife in North Haven, Connecticut, near their three children and four grandchildren.