The Prelude

William Wordsworth, Edited by James Engell and Michael D. Raymond

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 masterpiece of English literature, and is here complemented and enhanced by 200 contemporary color plates that both illuminate and elucidate the text. Scrupulously selected and newly re-edited from the definitive manuscripts in existence, the marginal notes and glosses provide an extra touch that makes this a truly enlightening reading experience.

Cloth: $40
ISBN-13: 9781684582501
Pages: 304 | Size: 12.3 in. x 9.7 in.
Date Published: October 15, 2024


  • It was… with startled joy that I encountered this glorious 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 in a broad horizontal format, this volume is illustrated 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.

    The New York Review of Books
  • “An outsize, gorgeous book, replete with paintings and drawings—landscapes, houses, portraits—contemporaneous with the poem. At last we have a worthy visual counterpart to one of the timeless monuments of English verse.”

    The Wall Street Journal
    Brad Leithauser
  • The joy of the object... is its reproduction of some 130 paintings, drawings and other works of art appertaining to the poem. They are scattered throughout the book, all in full colour, almost all contemporary with "The Prelude" and some of them actually seen by Wordsworth himself.

    Literary Review
  • Take up this book, which you can readily imagine starting off in its readers a lifetime’s love for the great poem, as well as a fascination for the diverse grounds from which it grew.

    The Wordsworth Circle
    Seamus Perry
  • The editors have revisited the two manuscripts of the youthful, spontaneous version of 1805... The text is lightly but skillfully annotated and the whole is presented with the authority and the freshness it deserves.

    Cumbria Life

About the Author

Michael D. Raymond

Michael D. Raymond completed his M.A. at Harvard and Ph.D. at Fordham on William Wordsworth. For four decades he was 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.

James Engell

James Engell is Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature, also a member of the Committee on the Study of Religion, and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He has also directed dissertations in American Studies, as well as Romance Languages & Literatures (French).

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