Chatterton, Wordsworth and Coleridge
In Bristol in 1752 the ‘father of Romanticism’, Thomas Chatterton, was born. Champion of gothic revivalism and the pastoral in a time of commerce and industrialisation, instigator of the myth of poetic genius, Chatterton was to inspire and fascinate poets that followed him: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and Keats. And, despite Chatterton’s somewhat fraught relationship with the city,he was and is, nonetheless, a poet of Bristol. The city's topography, literary history and people became his muse. In 1798, almost 50 years after Chatterton’s birth, a revolutionary book was published in Bristol, Lyrical Ballads. It altered the landscape of English writing. From 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' through to 'Tintern Abbey', the poems were extraordinary -- head-spinning, provocative, and moving. Though the book appeared anonymously, the identity of the authors soon emerged: William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They had been living in Bristol and the south-west while the book was written, sometimes at Clevedon, for a while in the Quantocks. This layer connects a key work of English literature, and three key figures of British Romanticism, to the city and the region which produced them.