Thomas de Quincey

Thomas De Quincey (də kwĬn´sē), 1785–1859, English essayist. In 1802 he ran away from school and tramped about the country, eventually settling in London. His family soon found him and entered him (1803) in Worcester College, Oxford, where he developed a deep interest in German literature and philosophy. He left Oxford in 1808 without completing his degree and settled (1809) at Grasmere, where he made the acquaintance of Wordsworth. By 1817 the opium habit, which he had begun while at Oxford, had reached its height. He achieved literary eminence with the publication of his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1822), which first appeared in the London Magazine in 1821. It is an account of the progress of his drug habit, including descriptions of the bizarre and spectacular dreams he had while under the influence of opium. He became a prolific contributor to various journals, especially to Blackwood's, Edinburgh, after 1825. Among his best works—all written in a polished, highly imaginative, and discursive prose—are "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts," "Suspiria de Profundis," "On the English Mail-Coach," "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth," and Autobiographic Sketches (1853).

See his letters (ed. by W. H. Bonner, 1936); his diary for 1803 (ed. by H. A. Eaton, 1927); biographies by E. Sackville-West (1936), H. A. Eaton (1936, repr. 1972), and G. Lindop (1981); studies by J. E. Jordan (1952, repr. 1973), A. Goldman (1965), V. A. DeLuca (1980), and R. L. Snyder, ed. (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Confessions of An English Opium-Eater and Other Writings
Thomas De Quincey; Grevel Lindop.
Oxford University Press, 1985
FREE! Personal Recollections of Thomas de Quincey
John Ritchie Findlay.
Adam and Charles Black, 1886
De Quincey at Work
Willard Hallam Bonner.
Airport Publishers, Inc., 1936
Revisionary Gleam: De Quincey, Coleridge, and the High Romantic Argument
Daniel Sanjiv Roberts.
Liverpool University Press, 2000
Thomas De Quincey and the Language of Literature: Or, on the Necessity of Ignorance
McGrath, Brian.
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 47, No. 4, Autumn 2007
Grub Street and the Ivory Tower: Literary Journalism and Literary Scholarship from Fielding to the Internet
Jeremy Treglown; Bridget Bennett.
Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "De Quincey and the Edinburgh and Glasgow University Circles"
High Anxieties: Cultural Studies in Addiction
Janet Farrell Brodie; Marc Redfield.
University of California Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Narrating National Addictions: De Quincey, Opium, and Tea"
De Quincey's Imperial Systems
Frey, Anne.
Studies in Romanticism, Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 2005
"His Canaille of an Audience": Thomas De Quincey and the Revolution in Reading
Duffy, Cian.
Studies in Romanticism, Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 2005
Piranesi's Prison: Thomas De Quincey and the Failure of Autobiography
Perry, Curtis.
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 33, No. 4, Autumn 1993
Degrading Forms of Pantomime: Englishness and Shame in De Quincey
Jagoe, Eva-Lynn Alicia.
Studies in Romanticism, Vol. 44, No. 1, Spring 2005
Search for more books and articles on Thomas de Quincey