How did 18th century’s literary women relieve domestic distress? With opiates
It wasn’t just men such as Coleridge and De Quincey who took drugs, study of Mary Robinson and Harriet Martineau reveals
Sun 11 Mar 2018 06.05 GMT
Top: Mary Robinson, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Harriet Martineau Bottom: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sara Coleridge, Anna Seward
Top row: Mary Robinson, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Harriet Martineau. Bottom row: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sara Coleridge, Anna Seward Composite: Getty/Alamy
The fantastical poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the scandalous journal of “opium eater” Thomas De Quincey notoriously celebrate the influence of opium. Now, beyond Coleridge’s “caverns measureless to man” and De Quincey’s nightmarish visions, a new academic study is to reveal that many of the female stars of the British literary scene of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were equally dependent on the drug.
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