This is a study of the origins in social and economic history of Golden Age theories during the Industrial Revolution in England: 1750–1850. It deals with the life and work of William Wordsworth (1770–1850) in terms of his beliefs about Old England. His many arguments in favour of rural life and agrarian society in the late eighteenth century are here studied under the general heading of ‘Golden Age theories’. The crux of these theories is the striking contrast offered by the recent or remote past, as a supposed ideal of social life and moral relations, to the conditions of life in the present. This work argues that Wordsworth’s Romantic critique of industrial life and urban society was based upon vanishing views of the Lake District community, in general, and the old ‘statesmen’ system of farming, in particular.1 In consequence, his poetry and prose reveal as much about the changing values, structure and relationships of the old landed order as, say, Romantic art and criticism.


Industrial Revolution Lake District Mystical Experience Late Eighteenth Century Rural Life 
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  1. 2.
    The following books and articles are indispensable to the student of Golden Age theories during the Industrial Revolution: M. D. George, England in Transition (London: Penguin Books, 1953), esp. Chs 1, 2 and 5;Google Scholar
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