Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy birthday, Thomas de Quincey

It is the birthday of English writer Thomas de Quincey (1785), who is best remembered  for his autobiographical Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). De Quincey, raised by  a single mother after his father died, ran away from boarding school, struggled and starved in life on the road, was accidentally found by friends and taken home, went to Oxford where he became a loner and strung out on drugs, finished his studies but didn't take the final exam to get a degree, lived in a lake cottage formerly occupied by a successful poet and settled down to do serious literary work to earn a living, became a newspaper editor but was fired because he couldn't meet deadlines, then wrote a tell-all about his earlier drug-addled life and became famous. He did this 200 years ago. The poet was William Wordsworth.

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