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THE ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER: The Life and Times of Thomas De Quincey

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Time 18:30
Date 31/01/23
Price £12
  • Price 12
  • Get ready for an alternative to Wordsworth
  • Bring along your curious self
  • Surf to Buy tickets
  • See you at Century Club

In this talk, biographer Frances Wilson tells the riches-to-rags story of a writer of dazzling complexity and originality whose rackety life was lived on the run.

Thomas De Quincey the English writer, essayist, and literary critic, remains best known for his book 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’, yet his works run to 21 volumes including his masterpiece “On Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts”. Following a troubled childhood, he ran away from school at the age of 17 to live in Georgian London. Here he found his literary niche supplying mass magazine audiences with sensational journalism – reports of murders, rapes, suicides and freak accidents. He also found love with a young prostitute named Ann who he later lost in the vast anonymity of the city.

Wilson will explore this theme of De ‘Quincey’s lost girls’ and his obsession with murder that became so important in his life and work. She will also investigate the use and romanticisation of opium that came to define him. De Quincey was thirty-six when “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” his sensational memoir of addiction, which was published, anonymously, in 1821.

Frances traces these and De Quincey’s other obsessions - including that with Wordsworth and Coleridge - and describes his wide ranging influence on writers including Edgar Allen Poe, Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, and Vladimir Nabokov.


COMPETITION: Win 1x pair of tickets to attend The English Opium-Eater on Tuesday 31st January at 18:30. 

To enter the competition, send an email to with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ line. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: How old was De Quincey when Confessions of an English Opium-Eater was published?

A: .1) 30 .2) 32 .3) 34. 4) 36

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