Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
THOMAS DE QUINCEY (1785-1859), second son of a linen merchant, was born in Manchester and educated at schools in Bath and Winkfield, ending at Manchester Grammar School from which he ran away to the homeless wanderings in Wales and London which he was to describe in “Confessions of an English Opium Eater” (1822) by which he made his name. Eclectic learning, pungent black humour, sometimes degenerating into facetiousness, a stately but singular style distinguish all his writing. His impressionistic reminiscences both of his own childhood and of his literary contemporaries are memorably vivid. His greatest achievement was his psychological study of the faculty of dreaming in “Suspiria de Profundis” and “The English Mail Coach”, in which he traced –twenty five years before Freud was born- how childhood experiences and sufferings are crystallized in dreams into symbols which can form and educate the dreamer´s personality.