cover image Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays

Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays

Bradford Keyes Mudge. Yale University Press, $60 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-300-04443-0

Self-effacing daughter of the famous poet, Sara Coleridge was herself an essayist, poet and diarist. Neglected by her mostly absent father, she suffered from acute depression, hysterical fits and addiction to opium. Ten years of continual pregnancies, the early death of her husband and her father's intimidating shadow were factors that stymied her literary career. She devoted herself to transforming Samuel Taylor Coleridge's reputation from dissolute poet to moral sage, and to that end issued numerous scholarly editions of his works. This Victorian daughter does not comfortably fit the proto-feminist model that Mudge, assistant professor of English at the University of Colorado, attempts to force her into in this biographical-critical study. Sara Coleridge's unfinished autobiographical sketch is included in an appendix, along with six of her essays, dealing with issues such as feminine beauty, the British government, Thomas Carlyle's concept of hero-worship. Illustrations. (Aug.)