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Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859), Writer; author of 'Confessions of an Opium Eater'

Sitter in 4 portraits
At seventeen, de Quincey ran away from Manchester Grammar School and spent five months penniless on the streets of London, an episode recorded in his best-known work, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). He entered Oxford in 1804, but left without taking his degree. De Quincey moved to the Lake District to be near his two literary idols, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Initially close friends, he became estranged from both men, and in 1813 he became dependent on opium. Following the success of his Confessions, he produced over two hundred magazine articles on topics ranging from philosophy and history to, economics, literary criticism, and politics.

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Thomas de Quincey

by Sir John Watson-Gordon
oil on canvas, circa 1845
NPG 189


Thomas de Quincey

by Sir John Robert Steell
plaster cast of bust, 1875
NPG 822


Thomas de Quincey

after James Archer
photogravure, 1902 or before
NPG D1686


Thomas De Quincey

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate negative
NPG x82359