Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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 took supernatural themes and presented 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 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.