Despite being a school dropout, a lifelong deadbeat and drug addict, Thomas De Quincey was also an influential writer and critic ahead of his time.  He was a personal friend of several of the English Romantic poets and author Frances Wilson displays a deft understanding and descriptive style in recounting his virtues, his failings, and his many obsessions and idiosyncrasies, most particularly his fascination with sensational murders.   In Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey the reader gains a sense of the events and influences that shaped De Quincey’s life and work, along with a fascinating peek at the Wordsworths, Coleridge and other more famous personages of the Romantic period.  An afterword details the many more recent authors (including Poe, Dostoevsky, and Borges) influenced by De Quincey’s life and work.

Alison M.