Highgate, London, 1824. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a washed-up opium addict, estranged from his friends and from his neglected wife. His grip on reality is starting to slip; his past and present mingle in laudanum-induced dreams.
In a Cambridge college library, Scrivener, a bullied undergraduate, finds a strange annotation in a book of Coleridge’s poems. Intrigued by this mystery marginalia and captivated by Romantic poetry, he resolves to become a poet himself, with Coleridge as his guiding light. Across the sea, Samuele, a young Sicilian, discovers that his mother once had a liaison with Coleridge. He sets out for England to learn all he can about the man who may be his father.
It isn’t long before Samuele and Scrivener cross paths – but will their journeys take them to the real Samuel Taylor Coleridge?
‘In clear, lyrical prose, Dennis Hamley takes the reader on an imaginative journey through Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s life, bringing the characters to life with gentleness and insight.’ — Kathleen Jones, author of A Passionate Sisterhood
‘With no discernible sleight of hand this master storyteller, with effortless assurance and prodigious skill, weaves his mighty spell and conjures before our very eyes all we will ever need to know about the most famous lines of poetry that English ever produced.’ — Robert Lipscombe, author of The Salamander Tree and The English Project
‘This novel is an interesting take on the life of Coleridge, an unacknowledged son he may have left in Sicily, and a hard-up scholar in 1820s Cambridge. It is fascinating to read about what might have happened as these three people intersect’ — Merryn Williams, poet and founding editor of ‘The Interpreter’s House’