Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Timeline
How It All Went Down
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is born in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, the youngest of ten children of John and Anne Bowden Coleridge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Falls in Love
Coleridge returns to England and falls in love with Sara Hutchinson, Wordsworth's sister-in-law.
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.
The Coleridge's fourth and final child, daughter Sara, is born.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A depressed and suffering Coleridge writes Biographia Literaria, a dense masterwork of literary criticism that many consider his finest work.
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.
Son Kicked Out of School
Coleridge's eldest son, Hartley, loses his scholarship to Oxford University for drunkenness. His father is distraught.
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.
Tour of Europe
Coleridge embarks on a two-month voyage around Europe with William Wordsworth and Wordsworth's daughter Dora.
Coleridge publishes On the Constitution of Church and State, his last original work.
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.