Coleridge, Manuscript Culture, and the Family Romance

  • Michelle Levy
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


It remains one of the great challenges in understanding Coleridge’s life and career to square his adulation of marriage and domestic life with Southey’s not unjust pronouncement “that no wife could suit Coleridge, he is of all human beings the most undomesticated.”1 Coleridge’s early life of loneliness and loss, his disastrous marriage, his failure as a father, and his troubled friendships seem only to have nurtured greater longings for an intimate domestic circle. If, as Southey reports, Sara Coleridge had once chastised her husband for having been “a bad son, a bad brother, a bad friend, & a bad husband,” and if the accusation had “stung him— because it was true” (Pratt 17), it no doubt stung the more because of the central importance he placed on the family as a source of creative power and political activism. In this chapter, I argue that Coleridge’s poetic aspirations, particularly through his literary collaborations, were bound up with his personal search for a domestic ideal and with a wider cultural romance with the family.


Male Friendship Affective Community Domestic Life Family Romance Manuscript Collection 
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© Michelle Levy 2008

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  • Michelle Levy

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