THE ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER
A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

ROBERT MORRISON
462pp 8 ILLUS 2010 LIST PRICE: £22.50 B733

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Description
Thomas De Quincey's friendships with leading poets and men of letters in the Romantic and Victorian periods – including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle – have long placed him at the centre of nineteenth-century literary studies. De Quincey also stands at the meeting point in the culture wars between Edinburgh and London; between high art and popular taste; and between the devotees of the Romantic imagination and those of hack journalism. His writing was a tremendous influence on Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens. De Quincey is a fascinating (and topical) figure for other reasons too: a self-mythologising autobiographer whose attitudes to drug-induced creativity and addiction strike resonant chords with a contemporary readership. Morrison's biography argues for the importance and enduring value of this neglected essayist, biographer, political commentator and classicist.
. . . a compelling survey of De Quincey's work . . . I cannot think of a more evocative introduction to the life and times of this remarkable writer. INDEPENDENT