De Quincey, Thomas

De Quincey, Thomas, a great English prose writer, born in Manchester; son of a merchant called Quincey; his father dying, he was under a guardian, who put him to school, from which in the end he ran away, wandered about in Wales for a time, and by-and-by found his way to London; in 1803 was sent to Oxford, which in 1807 he left in disgust; it was here as an anodyne he took to opium, and acquired that habit which was the bane of his life; on leaving Oxford he went to Bath beside his mother, where he formed a connection by which he was introduced to Wordsworth and Southey, and led to settle to literary work at Grasmere, in the Lake District; here he wrote for the reviews and magazines, particularly Blackwood's, till in 1821 he went up to London and published his “Confessions” under the nom de plume of “The English Opium-Eater”; leaving Grasmere in 1828 he settled in Edinburgh, and at Polton, near Lasswade, where he died; is characterised by Stopford Brooke as “owing to the overlapping and involved melody of his style one of our best, as he is one of our most various miscellaneous writers”; he was a writer of very miscellaneous ability and acquirement (1785-1859).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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De Quincey, Thomas
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