Coleridge meets the Wordsworths

Nicolson told the audience that Coleridge invited both Wordsworth his sister Dorothy to the Quantock Hills in Somerset in 1797, and so began a magical year of walks and talks that kick-started poems like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Tintern Abbey.

The opium-fuelled trio used the hikes as a catalyst to inspire their thinking, dreaming of a vision of wholeness. Nicolson said that taking opium was extremely common at that time, that he had taken it, and that it was like slipping into a duvet. He joked, "When I launch my Tory party leadership challenge I am going to say - opium on the NHS."

He describe the relationship between Coleridge, Wordsworth and Dorothy as complementary, in that Coleridge embraced the universe, Wordsworth the great self, while Dorothy was "the great noticer of this world.'

If you are interested in events like this see also Event 316 at 8.30pm on Friday 31 MayIf you like watching Hay Festival events digitally, please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.