Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, critic and philosopher who along with William Wordsworth laid the foundation for English Romantic Movement. Lyrical Ballads, his one of the most acclaimed works in this genre, was a joint effort of the great poet William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge with whom he had a close friendship. Other notable creations that became his masterpieces are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan in addition to his well known prose works Biographia Literaria. A few conversational poems written by Samuel Coleridge are This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight and The Nightingale. He was also one of the Lake Poets. In 1809, Coleridge successfully set up and ran a weekly journal entitled The Friend which gained him praise and respect as a publisher. Coleridge apparently became badly addicted to drugs and eventually died of a lung disorder on 25 July 1834.
Childhood & Early Life
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on 21 October 1772 in Devon, England and was the youngest of ten children born to John Coleridge who was a venerated vicar and an Anglican priest. As a child, Samuel was often targeted and humiliated by his elder brother Frank, and after his father's death in 1781, he was sent to Christ Hospital School where he spent a lonely and sometimes turbulent time. In a tarnished place and away from his family, Samuel developed a liking for seclusion and took refuge in his school library.
The isolation he was subjected to damaged him emotionally from which he never recovered even as an adult. Throughout his school life, he was never invited home by his mother, who apparently was partial and aloof to him. In 1791, Coleridge enrolled in to Jesus College, Cambridge and studied there till 1794 except for a brief period when he went to join Army in 1793. However, he soon returned and was readmitted in the college. In the same year 1794, he was awarded the Browne Gold Medal for a poetry he wrote on 'Slave Trade'.
Early Life & Marriage
Whilst still at the University, Samuel became influenced with the ideas of the poet Robert Southey and the two embarked on founding an organization 'pantisocracy' though the plan never materialized. In 1795, he married a girl Sara Flicker whom he never loved and eventually divorced her. In the same year he came in contact with the world famous poet William Wordsworth and the two became friends at first instance. William Wordsworth would become a great influence and inspiration for his literary work in future.
During the year 1797-1798, Coleridge lived in Nether Stowey, Somerset and was often visited by William Wordsworth who was captivated by the beautiful surroundings of the place. Whilst there, Coleridge produced two masterpieces that would meet great success- The Rime of The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. A few conversational poems written during this period are This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight and The Nightingale.
In 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth published the much praised Lyrical Ballads- a collection of English romantic poetries. It was the success of the volume that laid the foundation for the English Romantic Movement and catapulted them into the front row of world renowned poets in the English literature. In 1799, they both met Thomas Hutchinson whose daughter Sara would become his inspiration to write a ballad-poem called Love. Sara's sister Mary Hutchinson would marry Wordsworth in 1802.
Around the year 1796, Samuel first started taking drugs like Laudanum as treatment for his toothache and other ailment which turned into addiction after he became increasingly dependent on it. It is purportedly said that he used drugs as a remedy for his reducing stamina and a substitute to his youth energy. However, there are no substantial proofs for these speculations. Whatever the reason was, his addiction to opium started eating his life and he ended up alienating from his wife in 1808 or even the worse, falling out with his long time friend William Wordsworth in 1810.
Later Life & Death
In 1809, Coleridge embarked upon the publication of a weekly journal titled The Friend. The journal made a slow progress initially and soon it was touching the sky of success. It ranked among 'few original and thoughtful journals' of the day with Coleridge's assorted knowledge of law, morals, politics and literary criticism.
Towards the last years of his life, Coleridge's drugs addiction became worsen affecting his morality and work. Now divorced and estranged from the family, he took shelter in the residence of his doctor, where he was visited by several writers. The constant use of opium began to take toll on his life that finally ended on 25 July 1834, when he died of a lung disorder. Sibylline Leaves (1820), Aids to Reflection (1823), and Church and State (1826) were written during his last days in Highgate.