With March bringing World Book Day, there’s no better time to discuss Ottery St Mary’s famed poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge, a co-founder of the Romantic Movement, penned many famous works throughout his lifetime, such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan and Biographia Literaria. Born in Ottery St Mary and commemorated there to this day, did you know these facts about his Devon roots?

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on 21st October 1772.

  • His father was Reverend John Coleridge, the vicar of St Mary’s Church in Ottery St Mary and a former Headmaster of King’s School (set up by King Henry VIII) and previous lecturer at Hugh Squier’s School in South Molton.

  • Coleridge was the youngest of his father’s 13 children! And the youngest of his mother’s ten children.

  • Coleridge is believed to be the grandson of John Bowden, the mayor of South Molton!

  • Throughout his lifetime, Coleridge was both physically and mentally unwell. His physical ailments were treated with laudanum, which led to a lifelong addiction to opium. 

  • He was also known to suffer from bouts of crippling anxiety and depression, as well as what is now speculated to be bipolar disorder. 

  • Upon his father’s death in 1781, Coleridge was sent to Christ’s Hospital in Greyfriars, London. This marked his departure from Devon. 

  • Later, in 1791, Coleridge attended Jesus College, Cambridge, until 1794, although he would never receive a degree. 

  • It was during his time at Jesus College, that he was introduced to both political and theoretical ideologies which were deemed radical and formed the basis of Pantisocracy, an idea formed with Robert Southey, a fellow poet. 

  • Coleridge went on to marry Sara Fricker, although it was an unhappy marriage, and together they had four children, Hartley, Berkeley, Sara & Derwent.

  • St Mary’s Church in Ottery St Mary has a plaque commemorating Coleridge. 


How much do you know about Samuel Taylor Coleridge? 

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