Lasting First Impressions: On the Origins of Ambivalent Attitudes to the Lake Poets, Cockney Keats, and Satanic Shelley

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De Quincey idolised Wordsworth and Coleridge. Shortly after he finally plucked up the courage to go and meet them in person, they became friends. But De Quincey would soon become embittered by their falling out, which coincided with his emergence as a professional writer – the scholar-journalist who would write the first biographies of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Keats’s first critics wrote reviews of his poetry that amounted to a comprehensive demolition of his claim to be a serious writer. Ever since, the spirit of those reviewers seemed to hover over, and influence, Keats’s admirers and detractors alike.

Shelley’s image – having initially been established (according to contemporary tastes) as saintly, satanic, or plain silly – never seemed to get beyond those first, divided, emphatic impressions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Literary Biography
Place of PublicationWiley/Blackwell
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-118-89628-0
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018



  • De Quincey, Shelley, Keats
  • opium, biography, Coleridge

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