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Timeline

Oct 21, 1772

Coleridge Born

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is born in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, the youngest of ten children of John and Anne Bowden Coleridge.

1775

Starts School

At the age of three, Coleridge enrolls at Dame Key's Reading School. He later attends Henry VIII Free Grammar School in Ottery St. Mary.

Oct 6, 1781

Father Dies

Coleridge's father, the Reverend John Coleridge, dies. Samuel is sent to Christ's Hospital, a London boarding school that gives free education to orphans.

1791

Begins University

Coleridge enrolls at Cambridge University as a member of Jesuit College. He arrives just after William Wordsworth graduates.

1793

Enlists in the Army

On a whim, Coleridge enlists in the 15th Light Dragoons under the alias Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. He proves to be a terrible soldier.

Apr 1794

Pantisocracy

The Coleridge family pays to extract Samuel from the army, and he returns to Cambridge. With fellow student Robert Southey, he organizes a utopian society known as the Pantisocracy. Coleridge leaves Cambridge without a degree. He lectures and writes in order to raise money for the Pantisocracy.

Oct 4, 1795

Marriage

Coleridge marries Sara Fricker, the sister of Robert Southey's fiancée. Their marriage turns out to be an unsuccessful and unhappy one, and Coleridge spends most of his life living apart from his wife and children. To Coleridge's great disappointment, the Pantisocracy falls apart.

1796

Son Born; Moves to Nether Stowey

In September, the couple's first child, son Hartley Coleridge, is born. In December the family moves to Nether Stowey in the Lake District.

Jun 5, 1797

Meets Wordsworth

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth meet for the first time (though some accounts say that they may have met in 1795). They click instantly. Within six weeks, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy pack up and move to Nether Stowey in order to be closer to Coleridge.

Jan 1798

Receives Support

With his money running out, Coleridge glumly considers becoming a Unitarian minister. He is saved from the cloth when literary patrons and china manufacturers Thomas and Josiah Wedgwood offer him an annual salary of 150 pounds a year to support himself while he writes.

Mar 23, 1798

Finishes Rime

Dorothy Wordsworth notes in her journal that "Coleridge dined with us. He brought his ballad [The Rime of the Ancient Mariner] finished."39

Sep 1798

Lyrical Ballads Published

Lyrical Ballads, the poetry collection on which Wordsworth and Coleridge labored, is published. Wordsworth demands sole author credit, even though five of the poems, including "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," are Coleridge's. The day after the book appears, Coleridge and Wordsworth set sail for Germany. Coleridge intends to stay for three months, but ends up staying ten months. His son Berkeley is born in England but dies while Coleridge is abroad.

1799

Falls in Love

Coleridge returns to England and falls in love with Sara Hutchinson, Wordsworth's sister-in-law.

1800

Addiction Starts

Coleridge complains to his doctor of chronic pain and is prescribed laudanum, a frequently used but highly addictive painkiller that is the liquid form of opium. He begins a 16-year battle with serious opium addiction. His son Derwent is born this year.

1803

Daughter Born

The Coleridge's fourth and final child, daughter Sara, is born.

1804

Travels to the Mediterranean

Coleridge travels to Malta and Italy, hoping that the climate will improve his health. He plans on a journey of six to eight months. He is gone for two years.

1806

Separation

Coleridge returns to England and separates from his wife Sara. They never divorce, and Coleridge continues to support her. He moves to London, where he lives for most of his remaining years.

1808

Moves in with Wordsworth

Coleridge moves in to William Wordsworth's household in Grasmere. He lectures and writes sporadically, although his poor health and addiction slow his progress.

1810

Breaks with Wordsworth

Coleridge moves out of the Wordsworths' home. He later learns that William Wordsworth has warned a mutual friend against taking Coleridge into his home and spoken ill of him behind his back. A distraught Coleridge distances himself from Wordsworth; the pair reconcile two years later.

1815

Biographia Literaria

A depressed and suffering Coleridge writes Biographia Literaria, a dense masterwork of literary criticism that many consider his finest work.

1816

Rehab

Coleridge's doctor writes to surgeon James Gillman, asking if Gillman would be willing to take in a patient desiring "to fix himself in the house of some medical gentleman, who will have courage to refuse him any laudanum."40 Coleridge moves in with Gillman in the Highgate neighborhood of London, intending to stay a few weeks. He ends up living there until his death eighteen years later. Coleridge never totally quits using the drug, but drastically reduces its consumption.

1820

Son Kicked Out of School

Coleridge's eldest son, Hartley, loses his scholarship to Oxford University for drunkenness. His father is distraught.

1822

Son Runs Away

While walking with his father in London, Coleridge's son Hartley asks to borrow some money and promises to meet his father again that evening. Instead, he runs away from home. Coleridge never again sees his ne'er-do-well son, who goes on to have a checkered career as a writer and teacher.

Jun 21, 1828

Tour of Europe

Coleridge embarks on a two-month voyage around Europe with William Wordsworth and Wordsworth's daughter Dora.

1830

Final Work

Coleridge publishes On the Constitution of Church and State, his last original work.

Jul 25, 1834

Death

Samuel Taylor Coleridge dies at the Gillman home of heart and lung problems. He is buried in the aisle of St. Michael's Church in Highgate.

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