Rosemary Ashton explores the many facets of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's complex personality, by turns poet, critic, thinker, enchanting companion, feckless husband, fabled conversationalist and guilt-ridden opium addict. Coleridge's personality was strange and fabulous, as well as being deeply flawed. With subtlety and sensitivity, Ashton explores his complex character, demonstrating how Coleridge's writings in verse and prose are especially expressive of his opinions and emotions. She traces his development through his friendships, at school with Charles Lamb, at Cambridge, at Bristol with Southey and other radicals, at Nether Stowey with Thomas Poole, in Germany, in the Lake District with the Wordsworths, and in London, in the company of such men as Godwin and a whole train of disciples. An authority on nineteenth-century Anglo-German cultural relations, Ashton maps and measures the profound influence of German philosophy upon Coleridge's thinking and theorizing in illuminating detail.
She places Coleridge's reputation within the context of both British and German Romanticism and shows finally how the celebrated author of The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, and Biographia Literaria, eventual Tory and churchman, became for such Victorian intellects as John Stuart Mill and Thomas Carlyle, a luminary of immense importance.
Rosemary Ashton is Professor of English at University College, London. Her books include
The German Idea (1980),
George Eliot (1983),
Little Germany (1986) and
G.H. Lewes: A life (1991).