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Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772 at Ottery St Mary, Devon, the youngest son of a clergyman. A precocious reader and talker as a child, he was educated at Christ's Hospital School, London, where he began his friendship with Charles Lamb and wrote his earliest poems, and Jesus College, Cambridge.

In 1794 he met Robert Southey and together they planned Pantisocracy, an ideal community to be founded in America, but the project collapsed after a quarrel. Coleridge's poems were published in the Morning Chronicle, and in he wrote 'The Eolian Harp' for Sara Fricker, whom he married in the same year, although the marriage was an unhappy one. He first met Dorothy and William Wordsworth in 1797 and a close association developed between them. Coleridge wrote his famous 'Kubla Khan' in the same year, followed in 1798 by 'Frost at Midnight'.

In 1799 he and Wordsworth published the Lyrical Ballads, which marked a conscious break with eighteenth-century tradition and included one of Coleridge's greatest poems, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. During a visit to the Wordsworths in 1799 he met Sara Hutchinson, who became his lifelong love and the subject of his Asra poems.

In the following year Coleridge and his family settled at Greta Hall, Keswick, where he wrote the second part of Christabel, begun in 1798, and also became addicted to opium. In 1804 he separated

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