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.
More on Thomas de Quincey: The Romantic Poets and their Circle book in our Shops
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.