Thomas De Quincey (1785 – 1859)


The Homepage of Thomas De Quincey is devoted to the study of the life and writings of the nineteenth-century English essayist and opium addict Thomas De Quincey. In addition to a biography, a chronology, and a series of links to other relevant material, the site contains an extensive bibliography that lists more than 450 titles by and about De Quincey.


2013 Oxford World's Classics Edition:

Confessions of an English Opium Eater
and Other Writings

Edited by Robert Morrison


'I took it:—and in an hour, oh! Heavens! what a revulsion! what an upheaving, from its lowest depths,
of the inner spirit! what an apocalypse of the world within me!'

Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) launched a fascination with drug use and abuse that has continued from his day to ours. In the Confessions De Quincey invents recreational drug taking, but he also details both the lurid nightmares that beset him in the depths of his addiction as well as his humiliatingly futile attempts to renounce the drug. Suspiria de Profundis centres on the deep afflictions of De Quincey's childhood, and examines the powerful and often paradoxical relationship between drugs and human creativity. In 'The English Mail-Coach', the tragedies of De Quincey's past are played out with horrifying repetitiveness against a backdrop of Britain as a Protestant and an imperial power.

Robert Morrison's biography of De Quincey, dust jacket

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Romanticism and Blackwood's Magazine

'An Unprecedented Phenomenon'

A 2013 Palgrave Studies Volume

Edited by Robert Morrison and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts

'There was nothing else quite like Blackwood's... It bristled always with confidence and contradiction, mobilizing a coruscating wit and explosive irony.'

Though Blackwood's was published continuously for well over a century and a half, this volume concentrates specifically on those years when William Blackwood was at the helm, from his founding of the magazine in 1817 until his death in 1834. These were the years when, as Coleridge put it in 1832, Blackwood's reigned as "an unprecedented Phenomenon in the world of letters." The magazine placed itself at the centre of the emerging mass media, commented decisively on all the major political and cultural issues that shaped the Romantic movement, and published some of the leading writers of the day, including Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, John Galt, Felicia Hemans, James Hogg, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.

Robert Morrison's biography of De Quincey, dust jacket

 

 

 

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The English Opium-Eater:

A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

By Robert Morrison

'It is not only scholarly but thought-provoking; thorough, but also scintillating, and a genuine pleasure to read.' - Quill and Quire

Author of the famous and semi-scandalous Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey has long lacked a fully fledged biography. His friendships with leading poets and men of letters in the Romantic and Victorian periods have long placed him at the centre of nineteenth-century literary studies. De Quincey also stands at the meeting point in the culture wars between Edinburgh and London; between high art and popular taste; and between the devotees of the Romantic imagination and those of hack journalism. His writing was a tremendous influence on Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, William Burroughs, and Peter Ackroyd.

Click here to read the Telegraph review of The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey.

Robert Morrison's biography of De Quincey, dust jacket

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2006 Oxford World's Classics Edition:

On Murder

Edited by Robert Morrison

'For if once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.'

Thomas De Quincey's three essays 'On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts' centre on the notorious career of the murderer John Williams, who in 1811 brutally killed seven people in London's East End. De Quincey's response to Williams's attacks turns morality on its head, celebrating and coolly dissecting the art of murder and its perfections. Ranging from the gruesomely vivid reportage and brilliantly funny satiric high jinks to penetrating literary and aesthetic criticism, the essays had a remarkable impact on crime, terror, and detective fiction, as well as on the rise of nineteenth-century decadence.

The volume also includes De Quincey's 'On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth,' and his finest tale of terror, 'The Avenger.'

Robert Morrison's biography of De Quincey, dust jacket

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Thomas De Quincey

New Theoretical and Critical Directions

A Routledge Studies in Romanticism Volume

Edited by Robert Morrison and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts

'De Quincey is once more shown to be more complex than critics for a long time allowed him to be. It is a volume which should be on the shelf of every De Quincey scholar.' - Romanticism

The ongoing critical fascination with Thomas De Quincey and the burgeoning recognition of the centrality of his writings to the Romantic age and beyond necessitates a critical examination of De Quincey. In this spirit, ten of the top De Quincey scholars in the world have come together in this volume to engage directly with the immense amount of new information to be published on De Quincey in the past two decades. The book features wide-ranging and incisive assessments of De Quincey as essayist, addict, economist, subversive, biographer, autobiographer, aesthete, innovator, hedonist, and much else.

Robert Morrison's biography of De Quincey, dust jacket

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Click below to read more about Thomas De Quincey

Click below for Robert Morrison's interview with David Morrell


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with the technical assistance of Scott-Morgan Straker and Matthew Roby.