Coleridge, Samuel Taylor.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (b. Oct. 21, 1772, Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, Eng.--d. July 25, 1834, Highgate, near London)
English lyrical poet, critic, and philosopher, whose Lyrical Ballads (1798), written with William Wordsworth, heralded the English Romantic movement.
Coleridge attended Jesus College, Cambridge. There, with the poet Robert Southey, he planned a utopian society to be established on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. To this end Coleridge left Cambridge and set up with Southey as a public lecturer in Bristol. In 1795 Coleridge married, at Southey's urging, Sara Fricker, daughter of a local schoolmistress. Shortly afterward, Southey defected from the joint scheme, leaving Coleridge married to a woman whom he did not really love. His career never fully recovered from this blow. During the same year, Coleridge became acquainted with Wordsworth; together they entered upon one of the most influential creative periods of English literature. Coleridge worked on a new, informal mode of poetry in which he used a conversational tone and rhythm to unify a work. Several of these experiments, including Frost at Midnight and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The, were published in 1798 in Lyrical Ballads. Christabel and the poem fragment Kubla Khan, both composed during this period, were not published until 1816.
The tensions of Coleridge's marriage were exacerbated when he fell in love with Sara Hutchinson, the sister of Wordsworth's future wife, at the end of 1799. His health worsened and he grew increasingly dependent on opium. In 1802 Coleridge's domestic unhappiness gave rise to DEJECTION : AN ODE, and ultimately he separated from his wife. In 1810 Hutchinson fled to Wales.
The period immediately following was the darkest of Coleridge's life. The writings that survive from this period are redolent of unhappiness. He began to revive during the winter of 1811-12 when his course of lectures on William Shakespeare attracted a large audience. His psychological interpretations of the characters were new and exciting to his contemporaries.
In the end, Coleridge found consolation in his return to the Anglican church. The stability this affiliation gave him enabled him to produce large works again. He drew together a collection of his poems (published in 1817 as Sibylline Leaves) and wrote Biographia Literaria (1817), an influential work in which he outlined the evolution of his thought and developed an extended critique of Wordsworth's poems. A new dramatic piece, Zapolya , was also published in 1817. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1824.