Written in 1821, 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater' brought literary fame and not a little notoriety to Thomas de Quincy. It blew the lid on widespread opium addiction in Regency England, 'outing' such worthies as Dr Abernethy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wilberforce. 'Confessions' recounts the author's privileged public school days, his defiant truancy which led ultimately to a life of penury in London and to his rescue by, and romance with, a young prostitute. It is an intensely personal portrayal of narcotic dependence, filled with humanity, humour and beautiful prose. This classic work is essential reading for all those interested in the history and psychology of drug use, and its part in helping to open 'the doors of perception'.
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About the Author
THOMAS DE QUINCEY was born on August 15, 1789 in Manchester, the son of an affluent cloth merchant. He ran away from the Manchester Grammar school aged 17 and travelled in poverty in Wales and London before being reconciled with his family. He then attended Oxford University, where he first began to take opium. Despite excelling at his studies, De Quincey left university without completing his degree and married Margaret Simpson, the daughter of a local farmer. Having exhausted his inheritance, partly due to his addiction to opium, De Quincey found work as a journalist and wrote prolifically on various subjects for numerous publications. Confessions of a English Opium-Eater was published in the London Magazine in 1821 and found instant success. He went on to write several novels and biographies, and his unusual autobiographical style made his work extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. When De Quincey's wife Margaret died in 1837, his opium addiction worsened and he moved away from London to Scotland to relieve his straitened finances. He died in Edinburgh on December 8, 1859.