以《一個英國鴉片吸食者的告白》聲名大噪且流傳後世的Thomas De Quincey，是詩人華茲華斯藝文圈最神秘的人物之一，也是浪漫時期的最後一人，本書是關於De Quincey最充滿活力的傳記。
他是一個迷戀者，他迷戀詩人華茲華斯與柯立芝，兩位詩人共同創作的《抒情歌謠集》好似De Quincey的生命劇本，也給予他關於猝死的想法。為了追隨詩人而逃學，De Quincey使自己融入了他們的世界。有著華茲華斯的感性與柯立芝的性格，他塑造了一種心理複雜的三角關係。
De Quincey 24歲時，取代了華茲華斯，成為詩人在英國湖區Grasmere租處的房客。在這優美恬靜的鄉間，他卻緊跟著1811年發生在倫敦近郊的謀殺案報導，在這樁謀殺案中，兩個家庭的成員在家中被屠殺。在他因吸食鴉片所產生的想像中，謀殺者成了詩人，而詩人變成了謀殺者。De Quincey一系列精采的散文中，有一篇名為〈論作為精緻藝術之一的謀殺〉，本書作者Frances Wilson在散文中發現了De Quincey與華茲華斯和柯立芝之間非比尋常的故事。
關於Thomas De Quincey的傳記有很多，唯獨本書將De Quincey的精神活靈活現地呈現給讀者。作者Frances Wilson揭開了英雄崇拜與反撲的故事，本書重現浪漫時期最後一人的生命，也確定了Wilson作為當今最傑出的傳記作家之一的地位。
A dynamic biography of one of the most mysterious members of Wordsworth’s circle and the last of the Romantics
Thomas De Quincey was an obsessive. He was obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, whose Lyrical Balladsprovided the script to his life, and by the idea of sudden death. Running away from school to pursue the two poets, De Quincey insinuated himself into their world. Basing his sensibility on Wordsworth’s and his character on Coleridge’s, he forged a triangle of unusual psychological complexity.
Aged twenty-four, De Quincey replaced Wordsworth as the tenant of Dove Cottage, the poet’s former residence in Grasmere. In this idyllic spot he followed the reports of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, when two families, including a baby, were butchered in their own homes. In his opium-soaked imagination the murderer became a poet while the poet became a murderer. Embedded in On Murder as One of the Fine Arts, De Quincey’s brilliant series of essays, Frances Wilson finds the startling story of his relationships with Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Opium was the making of De Quincey, allowing him to dissolve self-conflict, eliminate self-recrimination, and divest himself of guilt. Opium also allowed him to write, and under the pseudonym “The Opium-Eater” De Quincey emerged as the strangest and most original journalist of his age. His influence has been considerable. Poe became his double; Dostoevsky went into exile with Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in his pocket; and Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vladimir Nabokov were all De Quincey devotees.
There have been other biographies of Thomas De Quincey, but Guilty Thing is the first to be animated by the spirit of De Quincey himself. Following the growth of his obsessions from seed to full flowering and tracing the ways they intertwined, Frances Wilson finds the master key to De Quincey’s vast Piranesian mind. Unraveling a tale of hero worship and revenge, Guilty Thing brings the last of the Romantics roaring back to life and firmly establishes Wilson as one of our foremost contemporary biographers.