Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘Christabel’. Portrait by Peter Vandyke © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Peter Vandyke © National Portrait Gallery, London

Biography

One of the most influential and controversial figures of the Romantic period, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 the son of a clergyman in Ottery St Mary, Devon. His career as a poet and writer was established after he befriended Wordsworth and together they produced Lyrical Ballads in 1798.

For most of his adult life he suffered through addiction to laudanum and opium. His most famous works – 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', 'Kubla Khan' and 'Christabel' – all featured supernatural themes and exotic images, perhaps affected by his use of the drugs.

Coleridge was as much a prose and theoretical writer as he was a poet, as revealed in his major work, Biographia Literaria, published in 1817. Coleridge's legacy has been tainted with accusations of plagiarism, both in his poetry and critical essays. He also had a propensity for leaving projects unfinished and suffered from large debts. But, such was the originality of his early work, that his place and influence within the Romantic period is undisputed.

Further information about the life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge can be found here via the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Related articles

An introduction to 'Kubla Khan: or A Vision in a Dream'

Article by
Seamus Perry
Theme: 
Romanticism

Dr Seamus Perry considers the composition and publication history of 'Kubla Khan', and explores how Coleridge transforms language into both image and music.

Kubla Khan and Coleridge's exotic language

Article by
Daljit Nagra
Theme: 
Romanticism

Poet Daljit Nagra explains how Coleridge uses language, form and imagery to create the heady exoticism of Kubla Khan.

An introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Seamus Perry
Theme: 
Romanticism

Dr Seamus Perry describes the origins of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and considers how Coleridge uses the poem to explore ideas of sin, suffering and salvation.

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Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’: Composition

Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’: Composition

The historical and philosophical sources for Coleridge's Kubla Khan.

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