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Cover for The English Opium-Eater

The English Opium-Eater

A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

Robert Morrison


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A masterful biography of England's most notorious literary figure.

Author of the scandalous Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) has long lacked a full-fledged biography. His friendships with leading poets and men of letters in the Romantic and Victorian periods— including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge—have long placed him at the center of nineteenth century literary studies. His writing was a tremendous influence on Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and William Burroughs.

De Quincey is a topical figure for other reasons, too: a self-mythologizing autobiographer whose attitudes to drug-induced creativity and addiction strike highly resonant chords for a contemporary readership. Robert Morrison’s biography passionately argues for the critical importance and enduring value of this neglected icon of English literature.

Praise For The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

Artful. A finely mapped study of an eccentric character.

Superb. I can't imagine anybody ever needing to do the job again. Mr. Morrison gives us an admirably lucid tour through the long, chaotic shambles of De Quincey’s life.

A lucid, deeply researched biography. If you've never read Thomas De Quincey, you should. Afterwards, when fascinated by the man, as you will be, turn immediately to this excellent, detailed, and often harrowing biography.
— Michael Dirda

Pegasus Books, 9781605982809, 496pp.

Publication Date: February 15, 2012

About the Author

Robert Morrison is recognized as a world-class scholar of Romantic and Victorian literature. He is the editor of De Quincey's On Murder (Oxford) as well as a collection of critical essays on De Quincey (Routledge). Robert is currently a professor of literature at Queen’s University in Ontario. He lives in Canada.