Almost everyone knows the name of Robert Southey, though few of us can recall a single line of his poetry. Much admired in his lifetime, he is now rarely read. He is remembered largely as the associate of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge: a fact that would probably have astonished and certainly have enraged him.
He was born in 1774, the son of a Bristol linen-draper who would become bankrupt while Southey was still at school and died soon after. Much of his childhood was spent in the company of his Aunt Tyler, a wealthy spinster who insisted that he share her bed, remaining still