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De Quincey

De Quincey, Thomas (1785-1859), a noted English man of letters, was the son of a Manchester merchant who called himself Quincey, the son afterwards assuming, or resuming, the prefix "De," and was born at Greenhay. The death of his father in 1793 gave him part-claim to a fortune of £30,000. He was educated at Manchester grammar school and at Bath, whence he ran away; and his wanderings in Wales, his experience of the tidal bore in the valley of the Wye, his hardships in London, where he made the acquaintance of "Poor Ann," whom he has immortalised, form a not uninteresting part of his autobiography in the Confessions of an Opium-Eater. In 1803 be went to Oxford, and it was here that the pangs of gastrodynia, or stomachic neuralgia, drove him to the use of opium, to which he became an habitual slave. It seems, however, to have been justifiable for medical reasons in his case. From Oxford - through the influence of Coleridge, whom he met at Bristol - he went to Grasmere, and associated with Wordsworth and Southey. From 1803 to 1828 he spent his time chiefly here or in London, and was a prolific writer, magazine articles being his special forte. He wrote for, among others, The London Magazine, Knight's Quarterly, and Blackwood's. From 1828 to 1840 he lived in Edinburgh, and then at Lasswade, near Edinburgh. He was married, and had many children; but he was no man of business, and his eccentricities were marked. To vast general knowledge, and a quaintly precise though involved style, he united great originality in choice and treatment of subjects. His Confessions, Murder as a Fine Art, The Casuistry of Roman Meals, are good specimens of his manner. He made contributions of some value to political economy.