What is the setting of The Prelude by William Wordsworth?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As mentioned in the answer above, The Prelude is a long autobiographical poem by William Wordsworth. It is called The Prelude because it was intended as a prelude to a longer poem. Although the entire poem never completed, Wordsworth spent many years writing and revising it. As it was autobiographical, describing Wordsworth's own development as a poet, it is set in the places where Wordsworth actually lived. 

It begins in the pastoral setting of the Lake District in northern England, a rural area still popular its scenery and walking paths, where Wordsworth was raised. Next it moves to Cambridge, where Wordsworth attended university, and then to London. In Book 3, a walking tour of the Alps (in Europe) prompts the poet to think about the importance of scenery to him as a writer. Eventually, the poet returns permanently to the Lake District, which is for him the source of his poetic inspiration. 

In the poem, Wordsworth provides many extended descriptions of scenery and of the people inhabiting the scenery.

thegreywarden | Student

The Prelude is an autobiographical poem by William Wordsworth. It was intended to be an introduction to his poem called Recluse, but Wordsworth never finished it. The Prelude is a very personal poem and reveals many details about Wordsworth's life. 

The poem is primarily set in the English countryside, where Wordsworth spent most of his days. However, Book 3 and 6 are set in Cambridge, Book 7 is set in London, and Books 9-11 are set in France. 

One detail that shows that the setting is in Cambridge includes this line at the beginning of Book 3:

"... And nothing cheered our way till first we saw, The long-roofed chapel of King's College lift"

King's College is an actual institution in Cambridge, England, that was founded in 1441.