Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, best known in his time as a literary critic and philosopher. He was immensely influential in English literature as one of the founders of the English Romantic Movement and when one talks about ‘the Romantic poets,’ it’s Coleridge’s name that springs to mind.
As a young man Coleridge met another young poet, William Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy. That meeting led to a poetic partnership that was to change the face of English poetry. They collaborated on a project, a book of poems titled Lyrical Ballads, to which they each contributed poems. It was a deliberate attempt to move away from the mannered poems of the time and to write poems in simple, everyday language. The collection had a spectacular influence on the future of English poetry.
Two of Coleridge’s poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan are possibly the two most famous poems in the English language. Everyone who has ever studied English poetry will have encountered them. Although not so well-known, several of his other poems are equally fine.
Coleridge was not only a poet – he was an academic and intellectual and wrote on several philosophical subjects. His most famous prose work is Biographia Literaria, a literary autobiography which is still used in universities as a textbook of literary criticism and analysis.
Coleridge suffered for most of his adult life from depression. He sank into opium addiction and died in Highgate aged fifty-two.