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In November 1791, Wordsworth visited Revolutionary France and became enchanted with the Republican movement.He fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, who in 1792 gave birth to their daughter Caroline.
William's sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, to whom he was close all his life, was born the following year, and the two were baptised together.
They had three other siblings: Richard, the eldest, who became a lawyer; John, born after Dorothy, who went to sea and died in 1805 when the ship of which he was captain, the Earl of Abergavenny, was wrecked off the south coast of England; and Christopher, the youngest, who entered the Church and rose to be Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
That same year he began attending St John's College, Cambridge. He returned to Hawkshead for the first two summers of his time at Cambridge, and often spent later holidays on walking tours, visiting places famous for the beauty of their landscape.
In 1790 he went on a walking tour of Europe, during which he toured the Alps extensively, and visited nearby areas of France, Switzerland, and Italy.
Wordsworth was taught to read by his mother and attended, first, a tiny school of low quality in Cockermouth, then a school in Penrith for the children of upper-class families, where he was taught by Ann Birkett, who insisted on instilling in her students traditions that included pursuing both scholarly and local activities, especially the festivals around Easter, May Day and Shrove Tuesday.
Wordsworth was taught both the Bible and the Spectator, but little else.
The Reign of Terror left Wordsworth thoroughly disillusioned with the French Revolution and the outbreak of armed hostilities between Britain and France prevented him from seeing Annette and his daughter for some years.
With the Peace of Amiens again allowing travel to France, in 1802 Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited Annette and Caroline in Calais.
Mary was anxious that Wordsworth should do more for Caroline.
Upon Caroline's marriage, in 1816, Wordsworth settled £30 a year on her (equivalent to £1360 as of the year 2000), payments which continued until 1835, when they were replaced by a capital settlement.