Thomas De Quincey - Non-Fiction Writers, Birthday and Life

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Thomas De Quincey's Personal Details

Thomas De Quincey was an English writer best known for his book, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’

InformationDetail
BirthdayAugust 15, 1785
Died onDecember 8, 1859
NationalityBritish
FamousWriters, Novelists, Non-Fiction Writers, Essayists, Biographers
SpousesMargaret De Quincey
SiblingsWilliam De Quincey
Known asde Thomas Quincey, Thomas Penson De Quincey
Childrens Catherine De Quincey
Universities
  • Brasenose College
  • Oxford
  • Worcester College
  • Oxford
  • University of Oxford
  • Manchester Grammar School
Birth PlaceManchester
GenderMale
Sun SignLeo
Born inManchester
Famous asEssayist
Died at Age74

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Thomas De Quincey's photo

Who is Thomas De Quincey?

Thomas De Quincey was an English essayist and critic best known for his work, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’. Born in a prosperous family, Quincey’s tryst at writing started after his brief elopement and comeback into the family. During his teens, he widely read the works of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was influenced by them. Interestingly, Quincey’s literary career started as a means to meet the financial needs. He started off by contributing articles in various magazines and periodicals and soon found his first success with the book, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’. Semi-autobiographical, the book gave a detailed account of his opium addiction and its effect on his life. Following the success, he came up with a large plethora of works in wide ranging field, from history to fiction, literary criticism to biographies and so on. His work stood out for its imaginative prose style that mixed an elucidation of other’s ideas with his personal reflection. De Quincey’s work influenced later literary figures such as Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire

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Childhood & Early Life

Thomas de Quincey was born on August 15, 1785, in Manchester, England to Thomas Quincey and Elizabeth Penson. His father, a successful merchant by profession, died when he was very young.

Young Quincey initially studied at the King’s Edward School, before being forcefully sent to Wingfield in Wiltshire. Extremely intelligent and brainy, he attended the Manchester Grammar School with an aim to obtain a scholarship at Oxford. It was during this time that he first chanced upon reading the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge, precisely the Lyrical Ballads.

Bored with the routine, he ran away from school and wandered around the Wales region until he was broke. He then left for London. Instead of returning to his family, he lived in starvation. This period of deprivation profoundly influenced his later writings.

Upon returning home, he attended Worcester College, Oxford in 1803. Following year, he first started using opium in the form of laudanum, a liquid tincture. Though he completed his studies, failure to take the oral exam led him to leave the university without a formal degree.

Career

Having finished college, he became a close associate of Coleridge and Wordsworth. By 1809, he settled at Grasmere at Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage.

Quincey’s financial condition worsened by the end of 1810s. He had a huge family to support and his opium addiction had increased by manifolds. Monetary constraints led him to take up literary profession.

In 1818, he took up the post of the editor in a Tory newspaper ‘The Westmorland Gazette’. However, difference of opinion and his inability to meet deadlines led him to resign in 1819.

He actively started contributing his articles in newspapers and magazines, penning on a wide range of topics right from literary criticism to translations of German poetry and drama, to popularizing the theories of British economist David Ricardo.

It was in 1821 that he first found success for his writings with his article published in the London Magazine that gave an account of his experiences as an opium user. His article was so well-received that it took the form of a book in 1822 under the title, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’.

‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ was one-of-its-kind book as it gave readers a glimpse of the pleasures and pains of opium usage. Semi-autobiographical in writing, the book detailed the extreme euphoria opium users experience while under the drug influence, but carefully admonishes the same by describing the depressive state that follows soon after.

Following the success of ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’, Quincey soon became a renowned figure in the literary circle. He started contributing extensively to magazines and leading English periodicals.

In 1823, he came up with the essay, ‘On the Knocking at the Gate of Macbeth’ which served as his first work as a literary critic. Brilliantly written, the work gave a detailed psychological analysis of Shakespearean criticism.

In 1825, he translated a German hoax novel, ‘Walladmor’ by Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish historical novelist and poet.

In 1832, he tried his hand at fiction with the novel, ‘Klosterheim’. He followed this up with, ‘Revolt of the Tartars’ and ‘The Avenger’. He wrote a book of short story, titled, ‘The Household Wreck’

Other than fiction and short story, he penned a series of biographies of writers, poets and politicians he personally knew. A large number of his works appeared in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and its rival Tait's Magazine.

He came up with a series of reminiscence of prolific Lake Poets including Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey, under the title, ‘Lake Reminiscence’ which served as one of his most important works.

In 1840s, his reputation as Britain’s one of the most prolific writers grew exponentially. Ticknor and Fields publishing firm, based in Boston, paid him royalties for his collected works issued in US. Within a matter of time, his works gained huge readership across US.

In 1850, he became a regular contributor in the Edinburgh periodical, Hogg’s Weekly Instructor. In 1856, the second edition of ‘Confessions’ was published in ‘Selections Grave and Gay from Writings Published and Unpublished by Thomas De Quincey’. The first volume of the edition appeared in 1853 and the last volume in 1860.

During the last phase of his life, he continued to write new articles, and assembled and revised his earlier works for new collected editions.

De Quincey’s masterpiece was the 1822 published book, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’. The title aptly describes the content of the book which dealt with Quincey’s addiction of opium and its effect. Partly autobiographical in nature, the book gives a wide overview of the effect of opium, the pleasure and pain, the euphoria and nightmare that the continued use of the drug produced.

Major Works

De Quincey’s masterpiece was the 1822 published book, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’. The title aptly describes the content of the book which dealt with Quincey’s addiction of opium and its effect. Partly autobiographical in nature, the book gives a wide overview of the effect of opium, the pleasure and pain, the euphoria and nightmare that the continued use of the drug produced.

Personal Life & Legacy

De Quincey entered into wedlock with Margaret Simpson in 1816. The couple was blessed with eight children of which only four survived. Margaret passed away in 1837.

His stint with opium started way back in 1804 when he used it to relieve himself from neuralgia. By 1813, he became a daily user of the drug. Between 1813 and 1819, he engaged in high dose of opium. What started as a health measure went on to become a pleasure-inducer and later an addiction that was hard to beat.

Arguably it is said that the effect of opium on De Quincey’s literary career was extremely high. Periods of low consumption of opium was marked as a literary unproductive phase while during high consumption days his literary output blossomed.

De Quincey passed away on December 8, 1859 in Edinburgh. He was buried in St Cuthbert's Churchyard at the west end of Princes Street.

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Thomas De Quincey biography timelines

  • // 15th Aug 1785
    Thomas de Quincey was born on August 15, 1785, in Manchester, England to Thomas Quincey and Elizabeth Penson. His father, a successful merchant by profession, died when he was very young.
  • // 1803
    Upon returning home, he attended Worcester College, Oxford in 1803. Following year, he first started using opium in the form of laudanum, a liquid tincture. Though he completed his studies, failure to take the oral exam led him to leave the university without a formal degree.
  • // 1804 To 1819
    His stint with opium started way back in 1804 when he used it to relieve himself from neuralgia. By 1813, he became a daily user of the drug. Between 1813 and 1819, he engaged in high dose of opium. What started as a health measure went on to become a pleasure-inducer and later an addiction that was hard to beat.
  • // 1809
    Having finished college, he became a close associate of Coleridge and Wordsworth. By 1809, he settled at Grasmere at Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage.
  • // 1816 To 1837
    De Quincey entered into wedlock with Margaret Simpson in 1816. The couple was blessed with eight children of which only four survived. Margaret passed away in 1837.
  • // 1818 To 1819
    In 1818, he took up the post of the editor in a Tory newspaper ‘The Westmorland Gazette’. However, difference of opinion and his inability to meet deadlines led him to resign in 1819.
  • // 1821 To 1822
    It was in 1821 that he first found success for his writings with his article published in the London Magazine that gave an account of his experiences as an opium user. His article was so well-received that it took the form of a book in 1822 under the title, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’.
  • // 1822
    De Quincey’s masterpiece was the 1822 published book, ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’. The title aptly describes the content of the book which dealt with Quincey’s addiction of opium and its effect. Partly autobiographical in nature, the book gives a wide overview of the effect of opium, the pleasure and pain, the euphoria and nightmare that the continued use of the drug produced.
  • // 1823
    In 1823, he came up with the essay, ‘On the Knocking at the Gate of Macbeth’ which served as his first work as a literary critic. Brilliantly written, the work gave a detailed psychological analysis of Shakespearean criticism.
  • // 1825
    In 1825, he translated a German hoax novel, ‘Walladmor’ by Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish historical novelist and poet.
  • // 1832
    In 1832, he tried his hand at fiction with the novel, ‘Klosterheim’. He followed this up with, ‘Revolt of the Tartars’ and ‘The Avenger’. He wrote a book of short story, titled, ‘The Household Wreck’
  • // 1850 To 1860
    In 1850, he became a regular contributor in the Edinburgh periodical, Hogg’s Weekly Instructor. In 1856, the second edition of ‘Confessions’ was published in ‘Selections Grave and Gay from Writings Published and Unpublished by Thomas De Quincey’. The first volume of the edition appeared in 1853 and the last volume in 1860.
  • // 8th Dec 1859
    De Quincey passed away on December 8, 1859 in Edinburgh. He was buried in St Cuthbert's Churchyard at the west end of Princes Street.

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Thomas De Quincey's FAQ

  • What is Thomas De Quincey birthday?

    Thomas De Quincey was born at 1785-08-15

  • When was Thomas De Quincey died?

    Thomas De Quincey was died at 1859-12-08

  • Where was Thomas De Quincey died?

    Thomas De Quincey was died in Edinburgh

  • Which age was Thomas De Quincey died?

    Thomas De Quincey was died at age 74

  • Where is Thomas De Quincey's birth place?

    Thomas De Quincey was born in Manchester

  • What is Thomas De Quincey nationalities?

    Thomas De Quincey's nationalities is British

  • Who is Thomas De Quincey spouses?

    Thomas De Quincey's spouses is Margaret De Quincey

  • Who is Thomas De Quincey siblings?

    Thomas De Quincey's siblings is William De Quincey

  • Who is Thomas De Quincey childrens?

    Thomas De Quincey's childrens is Catherine De Quincey

  • What was Thomas De Quincey universities?

    Thomas De Quincey studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, Worcester College, Oxford, University of Oxford, Manchester Grammar School

  • What is Thomas De Quincey's sun sign?

    Thomas De Quincey is Leo

  • How famous is Thomas De Quincey?

    Thomas De Quincey is famouse as Essayist