The extraordinary story of the legendary friendship -- and quarrel -- between Wordsworth and Coleridge, two giants of English Romanticism. Their passionate intimacy, their shared ambition, and their subsequent estrangement contribute to a tragic tale. Sisman's wonderful biography of this most remarkable friendship seeks to re-examine the orthodox assumption that these two poets flourished as a result of their relationship. He argues that it was a meeting that may well have been disastrous for both: that it was Wordsworth's rejection of him, and not primarily his opium addiction that destroyed Coleridge as a poet, and that Coleridge's impossible ambitions for Wordworth pushed the latter towards failure and disappointment. Underlying the poignancy of the tale is the intriguing subject of the influence one writer can have on another. Sisman seeks to answer fundamental questions about this relationship: why was Wordsworth so reliant on Coleridge, and why was he so easily swayed in the most critical decision of his career? Was it in Coleridge's nature to play second fiddle? Would it, in fact, have been better for both men if they had never met?Sisman writes the story of their frienship in all its aspects in order to provide a clearer picture of the effect they had on each other, thereby illuminating the very process of creation.
He examines too, the neglected subject of male friendship itself, and draws out the shared ambition of these two charismatic figures: to write poems that would change the world.
Adam Sisman worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. His last book, 'Boswell's Presumptuous Task', was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography and (like his first book, a biography of A.J.P. Taylor) was shortlisted for several other prizes on both sides of the Atlantic. He has acted as a judge for various prizes, including the Whitbread Awards, and is an occasional broadcaster on radio and television and a reviewer, most recently for the Sunday Telegraph and the Literary Review. He is married to the novelist Robyn Sisman and lives near Bath.