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Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Biography

21st Oct 1772.        Born the 10th and youngest child of a vicar and schoolmaster and his second wife – in Ottery Street Mary in Devonshire.


After a quarrel with brother, ran away from home and slept that night near a stream – he suffered from exposure and suffered ill-health the rest of his life.

1781            Father dies.


1782            For the next nine years Coleridge is sent to Christ’s Hospital, a London Charity School where he met Charles Lamb. He studied the classics, medicine, metaphysics, and theology. He was often sick, spending months in bed with jaundice and rheumatic fever.

1791            Entered Jesus College,  Cambridge, spend a year studying but sick with rheumatism.


1793            Enlisted in the Light Dragoons in Reading for two years.


1794            Met Robert Southey, a poet and sturdy Republican.  They plan to establish an ideal community in remote America with 12 young men and their wives.  There would be no private ownership, no industrialism.  Called Pantisocracy, it was an experiment in a perfect society and foreshadowed later attempts at utopian socialism.

Southey was in love with Edith Fricker and suggested her sister Sara for Coleridge.  Though the plan fell through, Coleridge felt obliged to marry Sara.  It was happy for a short time only.


1795            Met William Wordsworth.


1796            First child,  Hartley born.


1798            Traveled to  Germany to learn the language and study Philosophy and science.

1799            Returned from Germany, became infatuated with Sara Hutchinson, sister-in-law of Wordsworth.  This became a significant influence on his work.


1800-01       Sickly so began to take opium, ladanum and alcohol for relief.  The drugs made him interested in sense perception but to some deterioration of his body and mind.  He felt that the opium held his rational mind in check and set his imagination free.  (hallucinations?)


1803 – 04     Ill-health and separated from wife he sails to Malta as secretary to the Governor.

1806 – 16     Returns to England in poor health. Lectures and writes – addicted to Opium.

1816 -  34    Becomes patient in house of Dr. James Gillman, a physician of Highgate. Here he stayed until his death.  The house became a pilgrimage for writers and thinkers. He never recovered.

1834-25-07  Died and buried in Highgate Church.

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