The English Opium-Eater

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780753827895

Price: £14.99

ON SALE: 11th November 2010

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General / Biography: Literary

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Definitive life of the author of CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER, journalist, political commentator and biographer.

Thomas De Quincey’s friendships with leading poets and men of letters in the Romantic and Victorian periods – including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle – have long placed him at the centre of 19th-century literary studies. De Quincey also stands at the meeting point in the culture wars between Edinburgh and London; between high art and popular taste; and between the devotees of the Romantic imagination and those of hack journalism. His writing was a tremendous influence on Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, William Burroughs and Peter Ackroyd.

De Quincey is a fascinating (and 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 essayist, critic and biographer.


a book which is full of insight and careful reasoning... Morrison does a superb job of literary detection going through a life of lies, procrastination and deceit, and teasing out whatever truth there is to be had.
Jad Adams, The Guardian 09.01.10
I knew that I was on to a good thing with ths book before the page numbers were even out of roman numerals... This was a lively life, and this is a lively life...
Sam Leith, The Spectator 5.12.09
Robert Morrison's biography is astute and revealing, quarrying new sources.
John Carey, Sunday Times 22.11.09
The time was ripe for a new biography and Morrison has done his man proud. This is an exceptionally well-balanced account.
Jonathan Bate, Book of the Week - Sunday Telegraph - 13.12.09
Robert Morrison's biography is impressive, the first biography of De Quincey in almost thirty years, and is the first to use all his published and unpublished works.
Tom Paulin, The Literary Review Dec 09
Morrison provides a compelling survey of De Quincey's work as a biographer, satirist, economist, political commentator, translator, linguist and classicist.
Duncan Wu, The Independent 08.01.10 - Book of the Week
This isn't a debunking biography, just a properly sceptical one, and it's clear that Morrison's enthusiasm for the man and his writings does not obscure his judgement.
Suzi Feay, The Tablet 04.03.10
Morrison writes... with a combination of perspicacity and generous puzzlement... Thanks to Morrison... The life is clearer than it has ever been.
James Purdon, The Observer 6.12.09