Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Opium Eater

Reviewed Rob Morrison's admirable new biography of Thomas De Quincey, the English Opium Eater. Hard to believe that it is nearly thirty years since Grevel Lindop's equally good treatment of the same life. Bringing the melancholy thought that perhaps in twenty years someone will write a biography of John Clare that makes mine obsolete. Made to think about this because Morrison slightly underplayed the occasion when DeQ met the Northamptonshire poet: he could have done more with Clare's brilliant observations of the opium eater's character. Clare still haunts me, as I'm sure DeQ does Lindop. The psychology of the biographer's relationship to his subject: a fascinating subject in itself.


  1. Your work on John Clare is an inspiration, as is Clare himself. Reading your book (twice) led me to visit the grave at Helpston, and to look further into the life and works of this remarkable figure.

  2. I bought your biography on Clare this year and enjoyed it very much. Before then I had the impression he was an uncultivated farmer, but you really brought out his individualities and his relation to the society he lived in. It is far more entertaining than today's novels. Since then I've been reading up some of his poems.