The Life and Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Brief Biography


Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic, and philosopher who is best known for his Romantic works, including the iconic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” His life was marked by deep personal struggles and a profound talent for poetry, which continues to inspire and influence readers to this day.

Born in 1772 in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, Coleridge was the youngest of ten children. His father, Reverend John Coleridge, was a vicar and schoolmistress, and his mother, Anne Bowden, died when he was only seven years old. Despite the challenges of growing up without a mother and being constantly surrounded by illness in his family, Coleridge showed a great aptitude for learning from a young age.

At the age of nine, Coleridge was sent to Christ’s Hospital, a prestigious boarding school in London, thanks to a scholarship he won. This school would greatly shape his intellectual and religious beliefs, as he was exposed to the studies of classic literature, philosophy, and theology. It was also where he met lifelong friend and collaborator, Charles Lamb.

In 1791, Coleridge attended Cambridge University on a scholarship, but soon became disillusioned with the rigid curriculum and the strict discipline. He spent most of his time reading and writing poetry and ended up leaving without a degree in 1794. This decision would lead him to join the army, but he also left that after only a few months and returned to Cambridge.

It was during his time at Cambridge that Coleridge became good friends with fellow poet Robert Southey, and they planned to start a utopian community called Pantisocracy. However, the plan never came to fruition, and instead, Coleridge met and fell in love with Sarah Fricker, whom he married in 1795.

Coleridge’s marriage was a difficult one, as he struggled with infidelity and opium addiction, but it was also a time when he produced some of his most notable works. He collaborated with Southey on the pioneering romantic poetry collection “Lyrical Ballads” and wrote his epic masterpiece, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which was published in 1798.

In 1798, Coleridge met and formed a close friendship with William Wordsworth, and together they produced some of the most influential romantic poetry of the era. However, their friendship was later strained due to personal and artistic disagreements.

Throughout his life, Coleridge battled with his physical and mental health, which was worsened by his opium addiction. He also faced financial struggles, which forced him to lecture and travel to support his family. Despite these challenges, he continued to produce remarkable works of poetry and prose, including “Kubla Khan” and his critical masterpiece, “Biographia Literaria.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s legacy continues to live on, long after his death in 1834. His poems and writings have inspired generations of poets and readers, and his ideas on poetry and the imagination have shaped literary theory. He remains an influential figure in literature and continues to be remembered as one of the greatest Romantic poets of all time.