Essays in Romanticism

Mighty Poets: Hartley Coleridge and William Wordsworth

Essays in Romanticism (2018), 25, (2), 141–159.


Hartley Coleridge has often been dismissed as little more than a minor poet driven to drink by his angst over a poetic inheritance passed down by his father, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and mentor, William Wordsworth. Poems like Wordsworth’s “To H.C. Six Years Old” were particularly influential in establishing a myth of Hartley as a faery creature who was ill-suited for adult life. Yet, Hartley challenged this myth in his own poetry and, as this essay argues, transformed it into a mode for critiquing not only his literary relationships with the first-generation Romantics, but also for assessing Wordsworth’s later poetry. Further, this essay suggests that Hartley’s poetic responses to Wordsworth indicate growing confidence in his literary talents, and articulate his claims to be considered as an important Lake Poet in his own right.

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Author details

Taylor, Joanna E.