Surprising Facts about Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Interesting Literature

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was once described as the last person to have read everything, so steeped in literature, philosophy, and learning was he. Certainly, he gave us a very useful phrase concerning good fiction: the expression ‘suspension of disbelief’ is a coinage of his, and describes the unofficial contract we all enter into when we read, or watch, fictional narratives. But he also gave us a few other useful words, notably ‘psychosomatic’ and ‘selfless’, and the first recorded use of ‘bisexual’ (although Coleridge used it to mean ‘androgynous’ or ‘containing both sexes’, rather than being attracted to persons of both sexes). In fact, he also led an eventful life including a spell in the Royal Dragoons, joining up under the name ‘Cumberbatch’.


Coleridge’s most famous poem appeared in the important 1798 collection Lyrical Ballads, co-written with William Wordsworth. Despite its later significance, the book initially sold badly, and Wordsworth’s celebrated preface (containing…

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