Romantic Nationalism, Thomas De Quincey and the Public Debate about the First Opium War, 1839-42

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This essay situates Thomas De Quincey's essay 'On the Opium and the China Question' published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine in June 1840 within the British public debate about the politics of the opium trade with China and the First Opium War. The essay argues that this war was one that involved a series of romantic period literary personalities, including De Quincey, T. B. Macaulay, Samuel Warren, Algernon Thelwall (son of the radical 1790s politician John Thelwall), and John Cam Hobhouse. De Quincey emerges as both an idiosyncratic, though public voice, and as a character, 'the opium eater', that is frequently invoked by participants in the debate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Romanticism. Studien zur Englischen Romantik
Subtitle of host publicationStudien zur Englischen Romantik
EditorsSebastien Domsch, Christoph Reinhardt
Place of PublicationTrier
PublisherWissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-3-86821-739-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Publication series

NameStudien zur Englischen Romantik
PublisherWissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier


  • Opium Trade
  • Opium War
  • Romanticism
  • De Quincey

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