Thomas de Quincey was an author and essayist, whose best-known book is `Confessions of an English Opium-Eater? (1822). De Quincey first used opium as a student at the University of Oxford, when the drug was legal and cheaply available at any `druggist?. In 1809 he settled in the Lake District, in the Wordsworths? former cottage. In 1817 he married Margaret Simpson, with whom he already had a child and would have seven more. De Quincey wanted to be a writer and his friendship with Professor John Wilson led him to contribute to `Blackwood?s Magazine? and settle in Edinburgh. One of his best pieces for the magazine was `The English mail-coach? of 1849. Despite his considerable reputation, his drug use and eccentricity resulted in ill health, financial troubles and prosecution for debt.