Hartley Coleridge

Hartley Coleridge.

Hartley Coleridge.

Hartley Coleridge (19 September 1796 – 6 January 1849) was an English writer. He was the eldest son of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

He was born in Kingsdown, a suburb of Bristol, and spent his early years in the care of Robert Southey at Greta Hall, Keswick, and he was educated by the Rev. John Dawes at Ambleside. In 1815, he went to Oxford, as a scholar of Merton College. He had inherited much of his father’s character, and his lifestyle was such that, although he was successful in gaining an Oriel fellowship, at the close of the probationary year (1820) he was judged to have forfeited it. The authorities would not reverse their decision; but they awarded him a gift of £300.

Hartley Coleridge then spent two years in London, where he wrote short poems for the London Magazine. His next step was to become a partner in a school at Ambleside, but this scheme failed. In 1830 a Leeds publisher, F. E. Bingley, made a contract with him to write biographies of Yorkshire and Lancashire worthies. These were afterwards republished under the title of Biographia Borealis (1833) and Worthies of Yorkshire and Lancashire (1836). Bingley also printed a volume of his poems in 1833, and Coleridge lived in his house until the contract came to an end through the bankruptcy of the publisher.

From this time, except for two short periods in 1837 and 1838 when he acted as master at Sedbergh School, he lived quietly at Grasmere and (1840-1849) Rydal, spending his time in study and wanderings about the countryside. His figure was as familiar as Wordsworth’s, and he made many friends among the locals. In 1839 he brought out his edition of Massinger and Ford, with biographies of both dramatists. The closing decade of Coleridge’s life was wasted in what he himself calls “the woeful impotence of weak resolve.”

Hartley Coleridge’s literary reputation chiefly rests on his works of criticism, on his Prometheus, an unfinished lyric drama, and on his sonnets (a form which suited his particular skills). Essays and Marginalia, and Poems, with a memoir by his brother Derwent, appeared in 1851.

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