"On the trail of counterfeit Coleridge"
Samuel Taylor Coleridge at age 42
Public DomainSamuel Taylor Coleridge at age 42 - Credit: Samuel Cousins 1854

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher. He was born in Devon in 1772, the youngest of 13 children. 

He was a promising a scholar, and was briefly enrolled in Cambridge.  However in December 1793 he dropped out and enlisted in the Royal Dragoons under the name "Silas Tomkyn Comberbache", possibly to escape debt or a broken heart.  His brothers arranged for his discharge a few months later, citing "insanity." He was prone to bouts of extreme anxiety and depression, and there is speculation that he was bipolar.

Together with his friend William Wordsworth, he was a member of the Lake Poets, and founder of England’s Romantic Movement. His best known poems are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.  The latter was written in “an opium dream.” 

In later life Coleridge was plagued by marital problems, illness, opium addiction and lack of faith in his own talent.  He died in Highgate, London on 25 July 1834, as a result of heart failure.