ART & LIFE
POSTCARD BIOGRAPHIES FROM THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: 5. T S Eliot (1888-1965) on Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Sunday 09 February 1997
When five years old had read the Arabian Nights. Christ's Hospital and Cambridge. Metaphysician and poet. His life was ill-regulated: weak, slothful, a voracious reader, he contracted an unhappy marriage and much later the habit of taking laudanum. Described his own character in his great "Ode to Dejection" (1802). The greatest English literary critic, he was also the greatest intellectual force of his time. Probably influenced Newman, Maurice and the Young Tories; and died the guest of Mr Gillman of Highgate. T S Eliot
T S Eliot's brief sketch of Coleridge appraised his genius warmly while casting a cold eye over his personal faults. The enigmatic last comment may need an explanation. James Gillman, an apothecary of Highgate, was approached by the poet in 1816 for help with his opium addiction. STC proposed to stay in the household for one month, going cold turkey under Gillman's supervision. But even before the month was up, Coleridge was giving him the slip and procuring the drug elsewhere. This eccentric, demanding yet charming houseguest stayed on for the next 18 years, until his death; Gillman, physician, philanthropist and fan, must rank as of one of literature's most devoted patrons.
Portraits, drawings and letters from the "postcard biography" archives are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2. Free.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
The Interview makes £9.6m in online rentals and downloads in a matter of days
Diana West End play 'suggests James Hewitt could be Prince Harry’s father'
Game of Thrones named most-pirated TV show of 2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE over 'religious mistakes'
Marilyn Manson breaks silence on Lana Del Rey rape clip: 'I wouldn't make a video of that nature'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg