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Marking Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 250th birthday

Jesus College is launching Coleridge250, a commemoration of the renowned poet and alumnus Samuel Taylor Coleridge, on what would have been his 250th birthday.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge matriculated in 1791. At the end of his first year at Jesus College, he won the University of Cambridge’s Browne Gold Medal for a Greek Sapphic Ode.

While studying in Cambridge, Coleridge also wrote 'A Wish Written in Jesus Wood', 'Sonnet: on Quitting Christ’s Hospital', 'Mathematical Fragment Found in a Lecture Room', and 'Address to a Young Jackass on Jesus Piece Its Mother Near it Chained to a Log'.

Despite never obtaining his degree, Coleridge was reluctant to sever all connection with the College. On the title page of the public lectures he gave that year in Bristol on 'Advocates of Freedom' he described himself as “S.T. Coleridge of Jesus College”, while on that of his Poems on Various Subjects of the following year he inserted the words “late of”. Two decades later he was to write on the flyleaf of a book intended for his sons: “O with what bitter regret, and in the conscience of such glorious opportunities at Jesus College, Cambridge, under an excellent Mathematical Tutor, Newton, all neglected”.

The commemoration will start on his 250th birthday, 21 October, and run for the academic year. College Fellow Dr Matt Wilkinson will kick off proceedings with his performance of the Ancient Mariner with the Corkscrew Theatre Company.

Coleridge was a controversial figure and Coleridge250 will examine him from many angles. It will look at his life, achievements, relationship with the College, and stances on issues such as race and slavery. Events will include plays, lectures, readings, talks, musical events, and an archival exhibition. All events will be published on the College website as dates are confirmed.