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Biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor "Estese" Coleridge, was born in Otterey St Mary, England on October 21st, 1772. He was a poet, critic, philosopher and with his friend, William Wordsworth, a founder of the Romantic Movement in England.

Samuel's father, John Coleridge, was a minister. As the youngest of ten children he was often bullied by his old brother Frank. As his mother, Ann Bowden Coleridge, was distant Samuel ran away at the age of seven. He was found early the next morning by his neighbor, but the events surrounding the night outdoors later showed up in his nightmares and poems.

After his father's death in 1781 Col, often what Samuel went by, was sent to Christ's Hospital, a boarding school in West Sussex. There, he stayed with his maternal uncle and would become a prodigy devouring books and earning first place in his class.

Col's brother died in 1790 and his only sister Ann died in 1791. This inspired Col to write Monody, one of his first poems. In Monody he likens himself to Thomas Chatterton.

In 1791, he went to the University of Cambridge. Despite having scholarships, Col grew in debt. He began taking opium as a pain reliever and his addition to alcohol and women grew. At Cambridge he started his poetic fame, but in 1793 he enlisted in the army as Silas Tomkyn Comberbache in hopes of paying off his debt of 150 pounds.

Coleridge was suppose to fight in France, however he escaped and was soon arranged to discharged by his brother George on reasons of insanity. Col was sent back to Cambridge where he would meet Robert Southey.

With Southey, Coleridge planned Pantisocracy, their own socio-political movement. Southey in turn introduced Col to his wife's sister, Sara Fricker, who Col was willing to marry after their first meeting. In October of 1795 he did just that.

Southey and Coleridge began arguing over Pantisocracy. Southey then decided to agree with his families wishes and become a lawyer and leave for Portugal.

Before departing, Southey introduced Coleridge to William Wordsworth who in turn introduced Col to his future wife's sister, Sara Hutchinson. Col quickly fell in love with Sara and put a greater damper on problematic marriage.

As a husband Col became more responsible. He was able to earn nearly 120 pounds per year through tutoring and gifts. In September of 1796 Col's first son, David Hartley Coleridge, was born and his second, Berkeley Coleridge, in May of 1789.

In 1797, Coleridge published Poems which was well-received and took him on the fast track to fame. And in 1798 a collaboration of Col and Wordsworth published Lyrical Ballads, which helped start the English romantic movement. Although Wordsworth contributed more poems to the volume, Coleridge's first version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was the longest poem and received greater acclaim. In 1798 Coleridge also published Kubla Khan, which was a result of an opium dream.

Coleridge and Wordsworth left for Germany with William's sister Dorothy in the autumn of 1798. However, while away Berkeley, Col's son, died. The baby was given a smallpox vaccination and died due to a reaction to it.

Due to illness, Col turned to newspaper work in 1801 to help recover financially. He was convinced he would die soon and insured his own life shortly after the birth of his first daughter, Sara, in 1802.

In 1804, Col left for Malta where he would have a short stint as a spy for the British who wanted Malta as a British port although Col was temporarily the Public Secretary.

Col returned to England in 1806 before asking for a legal separation from his wife. Due to his continued opium use, Col's paranoia and mood swings got worse and could hardly sustain work. His friendship with Wordsworth was all but dead. He began writing newspaper articles and lecturing to earn as hopes of an income. Col's remaining work would be that of non-fiction, besides one or two plays. He would then publish Biographia Literaria in 1817 which was a mixture of both.

In hopes of ending his addition, Col sought help from an apothecary named James Gillman. Col was separated from his children for most of their childhoods spending as much as eight years away at one point. His friends and relatives took up collections in order to send Hartley to school.

Samuel Coleridge was a great conversationalist. Many of his London friends and relatives sought him out. His nephew Henry Nelson Coleridge, who married Samuel's daughter although they were first cousins, published a collection of conversations called Table Talk. Col also published new works such as Church and State in 1830. By then, Col was generally known as the finest critic of his day although he was struggling financially due to his lost pension of the Royal Society of Literature.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge died in Highgate on July 25th, 1834.

Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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