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Date published/released: 

1797

"April 1798, Charles Lloyd, A troubled son of the Quaker family of Birmingham ironmasters and bankers, saw his epistolary novel Edmund Oliver published in Bristol by Joseph Cottle. Private reception of the novel was at best mixed. Lloyd had mined the lives of family, friends, and acquaintances for details of character and plot, and unwelcome resemblances distressed some readers. When shown the manuscript in late December 1797 or early January 1798, William and Dorothy Wordsworth insisted part of it be cut. When she read the published book, Lloyd's mother reported that she was "wounded to the quick" by one passage. But Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the one for whom it caused the greatest pain: for him it was prominent among sorrows "that bite deep, calumny & ingratitude from men who have been fostered in the bosom of my confidence." To Coleridge it was obvious that he was the model for Edmund Oliver's flight from Oxford and enlistment in the dragoons, romantic obsession with the anti-heroine, Gertrude Sinclair, and confes sions of sexual excess, drunkenness, and opium eating...Coleridge took Edmund Oliver to be a malicious caricature of himself and the novel overall to be an attack instigated by Robert Southey and carried out by "poor Lloyd, whose infirmities have made him the instruments of another man's darker passions" (CL 1.248). Worse still, Lloyd's "infirmities" contributed to Coleridge's temporary estrangement from Southey and Lamb." —Richard C. Allen