Hartley Coleridge was the oldest son of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Although he was the subject of two of his father’s poems—“Frost at Midnight” and “The Nightingale”—Coleridge was nonetheless estranged from his parents in his youth and raised by the poet Robert Southey. Coleridge attended Oxford and received a fellowship to Oriel College. A bright student who was expected to excel, he struggled with alcoholism and was eventually expelled from Oriel, forcing him to forfeit his fellowship.
Coleridge subsequently moved to London, where he worked as a private tutor and published poems in the London Magazine. Influenced by William Wordsworth’s poetry, Coleridge excelled at composing sonnets and published a short collection, Poems (1833). The book received a promising reception, as did Coleridge’s collection of author biographies, Biographia Borealis; or Lives of Distinguished Northerns (1833). Coleridge’s writings also included an incomplete drama, Prometheus.
Hartley Coleridge lived his final years in the countryside. His remaining manuscripts were published posthumously in Essays and Marginalia (1851).