Coleridge was inspired and drawn to the Lake District by his friend William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth. Coleridge lived at Greta Hall in Keswick with Robert Southey from 1799 until 1804. During his time there he walked considerable distances and is the first recorded person to descend Scafell Pike via the dangerous rocky wall, Broad Stand. Today, Greta Hall is a Bed and Breakfast and Self-Catering accommodation. Tourists can stay in ‘The Coleridge Wing’, a two-bedroom self-catered apartment, including Coleridge’s former study.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet, literary critic, and philosopher, was a founding member of the British Romanticism movement. His friendship with Cumbrian poet, William Wordsworth, would lead to the creation of some of the finest examples of poetry in the English literary canon. Coleridge met William Wordsworth in 1795 while visiting Somerset, the two poets provided great inspiration to each other. Soon after, Coleridge wrote his two most famous works, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, and Kubla Khan. Coleridge composed the symbolic poem Kubla Khan, written about the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan and his legendary palace at Xanadu and — as Coleridge himself claimed — as a result of an opium dream, He also composed the Lyrical Ballads with William Wordsworth contributing four of the twenty-three poems in the collection. In 1799, Coleridge followed William and Dorothy Wordsworth to the Lake District. Together in the company of Wordsworth and Robert Southey, he would become known as one of the Lakes Poets. Wordsworth and Southey were captured and enthralled by the natural beauty of the Lake District, but Coleridge had a darker view, perhaps driven by his unhappy marriage and an addiction to an opiate called Kendal Black Drop, and his health deteriorated further. This may also account for many of his poems left unfinished, yet he is still considered one of the most influential poets of the era. The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner is a staple of English Literature studies in schools, colleges, and universities. Furthermore, Coleridge enjoyed creating new words and phrases, and many of his creations are still very much in use today, including ‘soulmate’, and ‘suspension of disbelief.’
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the son of the Reverend John Coleridge, was born in Devon in October 1772, the youngest of fourteen children. As a child, Coleridge was an avid reader, and when his father died in 1781, Coleridge was sent to Christ’s Hospital school, where he studied literature and wrote poetry. It was here that the beginnings of the mental illness that would plague him throughout his life began to manifest, first as feelings of loneliness and anxiety. By the time he was old enough to attend Jesus College, Cambridge, where he met lifelong friend Charles Lamb, he was suffering from chronic depression.
In his third year at Cambridge, he was struggling financially and enlisted as a dragoon in London under the assumed name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. However, when discovered, he was bought out by his brothers and sent back to Cambridge. The intellectual and political turmoil surrounding the French Revolution had set in motion intense and urgent discussions concerning the nature of society. This inspired Coleridge to establish a small society that should organize itself and educate its children according to better principles than those obtained in the society around them. A chance meeting with the poet Robert Southey who held similar philosophical views led the two men to plan a pantisocracy, setting up a community by the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. This philosophy led to Coleridge marrying Sarah Fricker in 1795, who was the sister of Edith Fricker and Southey’s wife. This marriage, despite producing four children, was never happy, being the result of social convention and convenience rather than love, and added to Coleridge’s mental health difficulties. Coleridge spent the next few years building his career as a writer. During this period, however, Coleridge’s intellect developed in a different direction as he embarked on an investigation of the make-up of the human mind. This led to Wordsworth and Coleridge travelling to the Continent together, where Coleridge spent most of the trip in Germany, studying the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Jakob Boehme, and G. E. Lessing.
They returned in 1800 and 1802, he published the last and most moving of his major poems, Dejection: An Ode. He left the Lakes for Sicily and Malta in 1804, leaving his family behind, and never lived with them again. He worked for a time as Acting Public Secretary of Malta under the Commissioner, Alexander Ball. His opium addiction began to take over his life: he officially separated from his wife in 1808, he quarrelled with Wordsworth in 1810, and lost part of his annuity in 1811.
In later years, Coleridge lived in London, giving public lectures concerning literary criticism.
He put himself under the care of Dr. Daniel in 1814 and finally moved in with Dr. Gilman in Highgate, London. For the next 18 years, the doctor managed to keep Coleridge’s demon under control. Coleridge died on 25 July 1834 as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disorder, possibly linked to his use of opium.
Coleridge was one of the most important figures in English poetry. He was known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in the careful reworking of his poems than any other poet. His influence on Wordsworth is particularly important because many literary critics have credited Coleridge with the very idea of ‘Conversational Poetry’, which is the idea of utilising common, everyday language to express profound poetic images and ideas for which Wordsworth became so famous.