> Skip to content
  • Published: 26 October 2009
  • ISBN: 9780141043890
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $9.99

Great Ideas

Confessions Of An English Opium Eater



Describing the surreal hallucinations, insomnia and nightmarish visions he experienced while consuming daily large amounts of laudanum, Thomas De Quincey's legendary account of the pleasures and pains of opium forged a link between artistic self-expression and addiction, and paved the way for later generations of literary drug-takers from Baudelaire to Burroughs. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.%%%Describing the surreal hallucinations, insomnia and nightmarish visions he experienced while consuming daily large amounts of laudanum, Thomas De Quincey's legendary account of the pleasures and pains of opium forged a link between artistic self-expression and addiction, and paved the way for later generations of literary drug-takers from Baudelaire to Burroughs.

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

  • Published: 26 October 2009
  • ISBN: 9780141043890
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: $9.99

About the author

Thomas De Quincey

Thomas De Quincey was born on 15 August 1789 in Manchester, the son of an affluent cloth merchant. He ran away from the Manchester Grammar school aged 17 and travelled in poverty in Wales and London before being reconciled with his family. He then attended Oxford University, where he first began to take opium. Despite excelling at his studies, De Quincey left university without completing his degree and married Margaret Simpson, the daughter of a local farmer. Having exhausted his inheritance, partly due to his addiction to opium, De Quincey found work as a journalist and wrote prolifically on various subjects for numerous publications. Confessions of a English Opium-Eater was published in the London Magazine in 1821 and found instant success. He went on to write several novels and biographies, and his unusual autobiographical style made his work extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. When De Quincey's wife Margaret died in 1837, his opium addiction worsened and he moved away from London to Scotland to relieve his straitened finances. He died in Edinburgh on 8 December 1859.

Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) studied at Oxford and failed to take his degree but discovered opium. He later met Coleridge, Southey, and the Wordsworths and worked as a journalist in Edinburgh.

Also by Thomas De Quincey

See all

Related titles