Samuel Taylor Coleridge

21 October 1772 – 25 July 1834


Samuel Taylor Coleridge Coleridge

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a founding member of the British Romanticism movement, and his friendship with Cumbrian local, William Wordsworth, would lead to the creation of some of the finest examples of poetry in the English literary canon.

Together with Wordsworth and Robert Southey, he would become known as one of the Lakes Poets. However, unlike Wordsworth, who was enthralled in the natural beauty of the Lake District, Coleridge had a darker view of the area, perhaps fueled by his unhappy marriage and opium addiction.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Devon in October 1772, the youngest of fourteen children had by his father, the Reverend John Coleridge, and the tenth child of Reverend Coleridge’s second wife, Anne Bowden. As a child, Coleridge was an avid reader, and when his father died in 1781, Coleridge was sent to Christ’s Hospital school, where he studied literature and wrote poetry. It was here that the beginnings of the mental illness that would plague him throughout his life began to manifest, first as feelings of loneliness and anxiety. By the time he was old enough to attend Jesus College, Cambridge, he was suffering with chronic depression.

Coleridge met Robert Southey, whilst at Cambridge, and the two had common ideas and philosophies, leading to Coleridge marrying Sarah Fricker, sister of Edith Fricker who was Southey’s wife. This marriage, despite producing four children, was never happy, being the result of social convention and convenience rather than love, and added to Coleridge’s mental health difficulties.

In 1795, Coleridge met William Wordsworth whilst visiting Somerset, and the two poets provided great inspiration to one another. Soon after, Coleridge wrote his two most famous works, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, and Kubla Khan. He also composed the “Lyrical Ballards” with William Wordsworth. Coleridge moved to the Lake District in 1799, following William and Dorothy Wordsworth to the area. He and his family lived at Greta Hall, and were later joined by Robert Southey and his family. During this time, Coleridge became addicted to Kendal Black Drop, an opiate, and his health deteriorated further. He left for Malta in 1804, leaving his family behind, and never lived with them again. In later years, Coleridge lived in London, giving public lectures concerning literary criticism. He spent the last 18 years living with and under the care of his physician James Gillam, and died in 1834.


Coleridge has been credited with helping to inspire the Romantic movement in art and literature in the UK in the early 19th century, along with his friend, William Wordsworth, with whom he created the influential work, “Lyrical Ballards.” Although many of his poems were left unfinished, he is still considered one of the most influential poets of the era. His epic poem, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, is a staple of English Literature studies in schools, colleges, and universities. Furthermore, Coleridge enjoyed creating new words and phrases, and many of his creations are still very much in use today, including “soulmate”, and “suspension of disbelief.”

Links to the Lake District

Coleridge was drawn to the Lake District by his friend William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth and returned to Cumbria in 1799. Coleridge lived at Greta Hall in Keswick from 1799 until 1804. During this time he walked considerable distances, and is the first recorded person to descend Scafell Pike via the dangerous rocky wall, Broad Stand.

Sites of Interest

Today you can stay in Coleridge’s former home, Greta Hall, which offers a mixture of Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering accommodation. The Coleridge Wing, a two-bedroom self catered accommodation, includes Coleridge’s former study.

Coleridge once spent nine days wandering around the fells, which was when he reportedly got lost on his descent of Scafell Pike and ended up on Broad Stand. This is an accident black spot where there have been a number of fatalities. However, Scafell Pike can be ascended fairly safely from Wastwater if you have a moderate level of fitness.