Remembered now mostly for his opium intake and friendship with William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is responsible for some of the best-known poems in the English language. The intense, fevered imagery of his epic works The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan live on in popular consciousness, while his confessional poems such as Frost at Midnight mark him as the frontrunner to the tide of soul-bearing, introspective artists, poets and songwriters that followed in his wake.
Born in Ottery St Mary, Devon in 1772, Coleridge was schooled in London and Cambridge University, and found fame as a public lecturer and philosopher after graduation. Together with Wordsworth, Coleridge produced Lyrical Ballads, from which The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is by far the most enduringly popular. Coleridge frequently visited Wordsworth at Dove Cottage but his time in the Lake District was blighted by opium addiction and an unhappy marriage, and the pair fell out in 1810. The two poets were later reconciled, but their fruitful friendship was effectively over. Coleridge died in London in July 1834 and is buried in Highgate Cemetery.
While living in Nether Stowey, Coleridge was famously disturbed and distracted by the 'person from Porlock', an incident much referenced in literature by writers as varied as Arthur Conan Doyle, Stevie Smith and Douglas Adams. A 7ft bronze statue of Coleridge stands in the harbour town of Watchet, where the poet was first inspired to write The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Nation's Favourite Poet
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