Samuel Taylor Coleridge

By: Patrick, Christina, Kye, Vaibhav

Early Life

Born on 21 October 1772 in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, England.

He was the youngest in the family of 14 children.

He attended Christ's hospital school after his father's death in 1781. After ten years in Christ School he matriculated in Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was known for his wide reading and impressive eloquence. Financial problems, however, drove him from Cambridge, and in his third year he interrupted his education and traveled to London to enlist in the 15th Dragoons (cavalry units).

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Marriage and Mid Life

Coleridge married at age 23 in 1795 hesitantly to Sara Fricker after being pressured to by his friend Robert Southey who happened to be engaged to Sara's sister Edith Fricker. After a year they had a son who was named Hartley which after experiencing the pressures of running a family caused them to give up on pantisocracy experiment. That same year Coleridge became friends with William Wordsworth. The two of them spent their time together talking about poetry, politics, and philosophy which eventually lead to a collaborative book of poems called Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge's poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, was the opening work of the book.

Later Life and Drug Use

In 1804, he travelled to Sicily and Malta, however, he gave this up and returned to England in 1806. In 1807, Coleridge returned to Malta and then travelled in Sicily and Italy, in the hope that leaving Britain's damp climate would improve his health and thus enable him to reduce his consumption of opium. It was during this period that Coleridge became a full-blown opium addict, using the drug as a substitute for the lost vigour and creativity of his youth.

His opium addiction (he was using as much as two quarts of laudanum a week) now began to take over his life: he separated from his wife Sarah in 1808, quarrelled with Wordsworth in 1810, lost part of his annuity in 1811, and put himself under the care of Dr. Daniel in 1814.

Late Life

Between 1810 and 1820, Coleridge gave a series of lectures in London and Bristol. Much of Coleridge's reputation as a literary critic is founded on the lectures that he undertook in the winter of 1810–11. These lectures were heralded in the prospectus as "A Course of Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, in Illustration of the Principles of Poetry." Coleridge's ill-health, opium-addiction problems, and somewhat unstable personality meant that all his lectures were plagued with problems of delays and a general irregularity of quality from one lecture to the next. As a result of these factors, Coleridge often failed to prepare anything but the loosest set of notes for his lectures and regularly entered into extremely long digressions which his audiences found difficult to follow.

The Lake District

Is a mountainous region in North West England. It is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains and its associations with the early 19th century writings of William Wordsworth and the other poets.

Significance

Coleridge is probably best known for his long poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. Coleridge is also known for his shorter poem, Kubla Khan.


Coleridge is one of the most important figures in English poetry. His poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age. He was known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet, and Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice. His influence on Wordsworth is particularly important because many critics have credited Coleridge with the very idea of "Conversational Poetry".

Word Help

Pantisocracy: a form of utopian social organization in which all are equal in social position and responsibility.